Old Habits Die Hard

The farm house at Juriesfontein

If you stand on the koppie on Juriesfontein farm in the Nelspoort area you can easily trace the route that the postman of yesteryear took from Beaufort West to Murraysburg.    It snakes across the veld  like a long brown ribbon .   The route is punctuated by a huge heap of tiny white pebbles just below the koppie at Juriesfontein and behind this lies an interesting tale.    At this spot the postman had to make a detour through a kloof to go round the koppie and as ever in the Karoo it was said that the Kloof was haunted.   More than ghosts the postmen on the route feared evil men, fearsome fellows who may pounce out of the shadows, beat them up and rob them.  Tiny white stones dropped at this specific spot were said to be powerful enough to warm off the  spectres of the road as well as those with evil intentions.   So, in days of yore each postman got off his horse at this spot to stretch his legs, answer the call of nature and seek just the right little white pebble to add to the heap.    Other passer along this route did the same and over the years the heap grew into a considerable pyramid.   Even today visitors to the farm may laugh when they hear this story, but no o ne ever leaves this spot without  dropping a pebble onto the heap – just for luck!  Experts say that this ritual of tossing a stone on a specific heap to ward off evil dates far back into the histories of several of South Africa’s indigenous races.

The San for their superstitions and strange beliefs tossed an extra stone on to any grave they passed out of respect for the dead.  They would also not cast a shadow on a dying animal for fear of evil befalling them and traditionally they saluted the bravery of any animal they had hunted and killed before tearing it up to eat.    Researchers say they considered the moon a piece of hide that had been thrown into the sky and stars to be sparks from a dying fire.

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