Lekkersing in the Richtersveld Community Conservancy certainly isn’t the prettiest village in the country. Many houses are broken and sad, just a few sheets of corrugated iron with more iron for shutters instead of windows. All around are rocks and stones, slate and shale. But it’s the people who make it well worth a visit.
Next to the two-roomed clinic is a veggie garden run by the Protea Elderly People’s club. We stopped to chat and found beetroots the size of small watermelons, some carrots, spinach, spring onions, garlic and squash.
Antie Lena Josephs was wielding a pickaxe like a pro despite her seventy-something years, digging a stony hole to plant an apricot tree.
Antie Bakkies Cloete was weeding nearby, her traditional Nama kappie shielding her face from the sun. She told us about a trip she’d made to Robben Island a few years ago, clucking disapprovingly about the fact that neighbours in Cape Town may often not even bother to greet each other, fencing and walling themselves in, ‘like a prison’.
Over cold drinks and biscuits in the clinic, the conversation turned to food. Oom Koos didn’t much fancy the crayfish he once had on a trip to Cape Town, but Antie Lena, far less parochial, rapturised about dipping the crayfish meat into the green sous in the head.
They confessed that this is essentially a meat-eating dorp, where even chicken isn’t considered meat. Sheep and goat are favourites, though all sorts of offal like tripe, intestines, eyes and brains have their devotees. People even use the intestines to extract a form of yeast, which they use for baking roosterkoek in ashes covered by sand.
Not surprisingly, given the local devotion to all things meaty, club members sometimes run into resistance when trying to convince people to eat veggies from their garden.
‘No way,’ one man told them bluntly, ‘I’m not a goat; only goats eat plants.’
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