At Riverside time often stands still when you try to move on. This is the case now that we must secure ourselves against those people who want to come down our road to the river to do evil deeds.
We want to put an old fashioned gate on the gravel road leading down to Riverside – so we can ensure that none of them get down there and harm us. This was never a problem before and, when Fredo was confronted with the problem recently, he immediately thought of what Old Jan Huppelbeen would say about all this.In times of discord and strife in the past, Fredo consulted Old Jan on two occasions for guidance on how to proceed. Old Jan used to live on the hills at Riverside – as they would say many moons ago. He had a joyous and free life – until the squatters moved in to the beautiful little place below next to the river, where he used to fish in the river and braai his Sunday tjops next to the river, before then cooling off in the Goukou stream in the late afternoon. Mind you, in Old Jan’s times this river had a different name – one which we cannot mention today and the use of which has dropped Old Jan in the dwang a few times.
Somehow, when Old Jan’s forefathers departed and crossed over to the ‘other side’, he got left behind. Since then all efforts to help his tortured soul to go to the better place, have failed.
Fredo started thinking of Old Jan when he had to work out just how we can close the road that brings all the evil down to Riverside. The problem is the road which runs down to the river is almost as old as Old Jan himself. It is what they call a proclaimed road and at this point – many, many years and decades ago – ox wagons used to cross the river to go down to Stilbaai a few kilometres further downriver.Regardless of the fact that there is now a road bridge and that nobody other than us few – who anyway stay on our side of the river – ever use this road – it is still a proclaimed road. Until it is no longer a proclaimed road, we cannot put our gate up to keep evil away.
Fredo found out that you have to start in George, where you make application at the Eden Roads Department and at the office of a man called Mr Ottervanger. ‘Good’ – thought Fredo. Mr Ottervanger will know that the local otters will also benefit if the road is closed. He will not have to catch them anymore.
Once we have done that and Mr Ottervanger is happy with what we ask him, he will send the application to the big indunas in Cape Town. They will look at it and if happy – advertise our intensions in the local newspaper. So far all good – because we are certain all will agree with us.The problem is that Oom Koos who lives in Riversdale, or for that matter in Gauteng (that evil place in the north where those people live at their Shebeen, causing problems for our country) may decide that he does not like the idea. Maybe, once every fifty years or so, he will want to come and catch a fish in the river or bring his children for a swim.
The problem is that he is not even allowed to fish on our side of the river or anywhere outside the strictly demarcated areas anymore – at least nowhere near Riverside. Oom Koos will have to discuss that with Cape Nature. Old Jan says we must not worry about Oom Koos. He has seen many like Oom Koos and they give him heartburn. Anyway, Oom Koos is too old to swim. Now, our friend Dick, who camped here at Riverside and like swimming very much, will want to come for a swim – and he is welcome! Dick can at least still swim!Still, we will have to wait. And old Jan’s Spirit now has something else to worry about. He cannot sleep at night for fear that someone will come down the road and disturb him. He has no choice but to sit in the hills and watch – and swoop down along with his flock of Owls visiting him at night, to chase the intruders away.
“No problem Fredo”, we hear his voice whisper as he swirls around us, “I will look after you!”Fredo feels sorry for old Jan – he should have crossed over to the ancestors a long time ago. In the cold moonlight Fredo starts humming Johnny Clegg’s famous song he composed for his friend Dudu, who died violently during the Apartheid years. Fredo hopes it will help old Jan to find peace at last!
Through all the days that eat away
At every breath that I take
Through all the nights I’ve lain alone
In someone else’s dream, awake
All the words in truth we have spoken
That the wind has blown away
Oh it’s only you that remains with me
Clear as the light of day
Chorus: O SIYEZA, O SIYEZA, SIZOFIKA WEBABA NOMA (we are coming, we are coming, we will arrive soon)
O SIYEZA, O SIYEZA, SIYAGUDLA LOMHLABA (we are coming, we are coming, we are coming across this earth)
SIYAWELA LAPHESHEYA LULEZONTABA EZIMNYAMA (we are crossing over those dark mountains)
LAPHA SOBHEKA PHANSI KONKE UKUHLUPHEKA (where we will lay down all our troubles)
Yes, it is time for peace to descend on Riverside, so not only Old Jan, but all of us can relax in peace, around our fires and listen to the wonderful world around us. Hamba Kahle Old Jan!