We survived the New Year’s Eve party at Riverside and no doubt saw in 2019 in good style, with lots of golden oldies dancing late into the night.

There was quite a bit of noise which probably would not have pleased the spirit of Old Jan Huppelbeen, who, as legend has it, has been guarding over Riverside for many years. For those of you have never followed the stories of Old Jan, a brief history.

Old Jan once lived on the hills above Riverside with his ancestors – those guys who built the original fishtraps at Stilbaai. Riverside was the place where most of the early settlers crossed the river as they settled around Stilbaai – with their ox wagons. Old Jan was happy at Riverside and he watched the passing of wagons through the river. He was annoyed for the first time when some of these settlers – instead of passing through the river – set up camp along the river and lit their fires around which they made a lot of noise. This increased year after year – and with it Old Jan’s discomfort grew!

Old Jan was in tune with his environment – the bosbokke and the grysbokke – and with the birds on the river and along the banks. He caught his odd grünter or two and lived off the harders who got trapped in the pools of the sandbank.

Old Jan was happy –  he even had a dog! But as is the case with all people, his life came to an end. At the time of his passing, he was unhappy about a lot of things which the settlers were doing to his beautiful world. At night, as the south-wester roared across the river, his spirit soars over the little settlement.

Like for all of us, Old Jan had to be at peace when he died. Otherwise he could not cross over to the wonderful world of his ancestors. For some time now, Fredo has on occasion been in discussion with Old Jan – on those windy nights – trying to help him to find peace. But this has been to no avail. He even played Johnny Clegg’s song which he composed in memory of his friend Dudu’s passing.

Fredo even arranged for a memorial of stone to be erected in the parking lot outside the Riverside Caravan Park, below the Willows Dam – at a place which Old Jan was particularly fond of.

What annoyed Old Jan most this New Year’s Eve, was not so much the music and the jolly party. He had a few of those himself in his heyday! No, Old Jan was not pleased with the cars parked so close or on his pile of stones. He feels that it is disrespectful and has been in a very bad mood over the past few days. But then – most people do not know about Old Jan’s feelings or that the memorial even exists.

So, apart from Fredo trying to stick to his own New Year’s Resolutions in 2019, he will try and get Old Jan to finally pass over to the ancestors. Once the river quiets down, he will even try and catch a grünter or cob and braai it near the stones just to make peace – on behalf of all at Riverside – so Old Jan – and all of us – can come to peace. Maybe Koos Pretorius – out of respect for Old Jan – can donate one of those large numbers of fish he catches at his secret spots at sea – for this purpose. Maybe Kevin Trollip can bring one of his big grünters to braai for Old Jan? The bigger the fish, the most important it will be to appease Old Jan.

The conversations are not over, because, apart from Old Jan’s anger, he made it clear that his worried about many things at Riverside. He is actually a very wise spirit and will no doubt offer all of us sound advice as we grapple with the issues dominating our future. Yes – the conversations will continue even if we get Old Jan to peacefully rise to the land above.