Old Jan Huppelbeen’s spirit has become legendary at Riverside on the banks of the Goukou River near Stilbaai.

Old Jan lived there many moons ago, before other people even dreamt of settling there. When he died, his spirit was left in a state of distress – the pain of seeing what has happened to his world and how people live and deal with the natural wonders of this place was simply too much. Unlike his forefathers, he was simply too upset to pass over to the ancestors.

You see, when you get to the end of your life, you need to be at peace with yourself and the people you shared this life with, or else you cannot find peace at the place you are going to.

Fredo has written much about old Jan’s spirit’s stress and what caused it. On blustery nights when the spirit soared across the river, we had quite a few conversations. We tried to convince him to settle his issues so he can find peace. Simply, the people of Riverside and their constant fights with each other, is what cheesed old Jan off.

On these nights we played the dvd of Johnny Clegg’s ‘The crossing’ – which he wrote for his friend Dude, who died in the Apartheid days. Nothing helped!
This week we ran into Klein Jantjie, seventh generation relative of old Jan. Klein Jantjie told us that Old Jan has finally decided to move on. In his passing messages to us he asked that the people of this region must love each other and care for each other.

Klein Jantjie says he does not know whether it was the corruption in the country, the collapse of the economy, the arrival of the French at Inverroche or the passing of Johnny Clegg which finally started the process. Old Jan was concerned for some time about the vast volumes of wine and beer consumed in his favourite place during the holidays, as well as the noisy revellers. Somehow, the arrival of the gin place at the top near the road added to his discomfort. Klein Jantjie says he was very concerned about the French invasion at Inverroche. They will now need more of his beloved fynbos to make the amount of gin they want to sell all over the world.

Klein Jantjie says old Jan could just not come to terms with this new language that will mess up everything the community knows. ‘Monsieur’ – Sava? So French – so different! Too much for old Jan.

Klein Jantjie says the new generations hope that the French will bring more jobs and that they will also profit from the profits of the place – better schools, teaching – child care!

So they will wish old Jan well – and wait and see what the future will bring. They have been waiting for so many years anyway!

At the entrance to the Riverside Caravan Park in the parking area, there is a pile of stones. They were initially placed there to get rid or to warn people of a wet spot below the Willow’s Dam, so they do not sink in the mud.

Increasingly though these stones have become somewhat of a monument – to the people who lived in these areas long before the present generations settled there so they can get out of the city live and come and celebrate the summer on the banks of the Goukou River.

Klein Jantjie and Fredo agree that it would be appropriate to dedicate these stones to Old Jan and the spirits of the departed souls – some of them quite recently – the original people and those who came and enjoy their holidays here and who are no longer with us. We will do so on 24 September – Heritage Day!