The Residential Development on the Farm Vluytjes Kraal Noord

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  3. Page 1
  4. The Residential Development on the
  5. Farm Vluytjes Kraal Noord, Orania
  6. Heritage Report
  7. By Mr M. Opperman
  8. Page 2
  9. 2
  10. The History of Orania
  11. The reconstruction of the past is never complete. Nevertheless, archaeological
  12. knowledge and historical resources can provide sufficient facts to write something
  13. meaningful about the people who lived over thousands of years in the area now
  14. known as Orania. It is also possible to recognize different periods of human
  15. occupancy.
  16. Prehistoric people
  17. The area where Orania is established has been visited as long as 30 000 years ago
  18. by Stone Age hunter-gatherers with a nomadic lifestyle who spent short periods of
  19. time there. Evidence of their stay is typical artefacts of the middle stone age type.
  20. Large quantities of these artefacts are scattered on the hills above the Old Dairy
  21. Farm and the Bush camp. Here, the creators of these artefacts had a panorama view
  22. of the Orange River. The Orange River is the largest river in South Africa and one of
  23. the world’s largest. Certainly it was a major reason for the presence of humans and
  24. animals. This factor also applies to a modern Orania.
  25. Late Stone Age people (San/Bushmen) have also found Orania's appealing. Besides
  26. rock artefacts hundreds of engravings on dolerite rocks were found of the hill which
  27. stretches in western direction from the Orange River. A comparison with studies of
  28. prehistoric engravings elsewhere in the Northern Cape indicated that the same
  29. techniques were used in the Orania's engravings. The dark brown surface of a
  30. dolerite stone were scratched with a sharp stone so that the light brown undercoat of
  31. the subject appears clearly displayed. It is the oldest technique and is known as fine
  32. line and it is dated elsewhere in the Northern Cape to about 4000 years ago. Some
  33. fine line engravings are found in Orania from which a small zebra is a good example.
  34. With time, the lines of this type of engravings have browned completely and the
  35. visibility is often difficult. Younger techniques, the pitch and scraping techniques, are
  36. in the majority and most of the engraving art belong to this technique. Subjects with
  37. these techniques show different degrees of browning depending on age and
  38. exposure.
  39. Orania's prehistoric engravings contain a wide variety of topics including some
  40. human figures, animals that were found in the area including: eland, giraffe, hippos,
  41. rhinos, zebras, elephants, ostriches, a leopard, a fish, and other unidentified game.
  42. Although the artists portrayed in their engravings what they were eating, their
  43. engravings often also contained messages of their religious beliefs and cultural
  44. symbols. The eland has played an especially important role in the San religious life
  45. and were mostly used as subject.
  46. The arrival of the white hunters, trekkers and Griquas has put the San cultural
  47. structures under great pressure. Confrontation with commandos in the second half of
  48. the 1700s led to the collapse of all resistance and led the disappearance of the art.
  49. Page 3
  50. 3
  51. The historical period
  52. The San group have, after the destruction of their resistance against the occupation
  53. of their hunting areas, became friendlier with the farmers and were also employees
  54. of the farmers. For some time they still continued with their nomadic lifestyle. The
  55. earliest indication of white man’s presence in the area today known as Orania is a
  56. date, 1762, along with other engravings but a different technique than that of the
  57. San. A white deserter of hunter was probably responsible for it. L. Louw was already
  58. in 1810 in the Vluytjeskraal area and he engraved the date on a rock with eland
  59. engravings. Many farmer families have moved seasonally back and forth across the
  60. Orange River in search of better grazing. Eventually they permanently lived across
  61. the river. In an attempt to stop the process, the Cape's borders moved in 1824 to the
  62. Orange. It did not help. The Farmer's motives were primarily land and no opposition
  63. against the Cape government.
  64. The map of Rawstone dated 1842 shows numerous drifts through the Orange River,
  65. including Zoutpansdrift and the farm Vluytjeskraal. A later map shows a relaxation
  66. area at the ford where Vluytjeskraal's hill was easily accessible. White visitors to
  67. Vluytjeskraal, like the San hunters in the past, felt the need to engrave something of
  68. their presence on the stones. Names, dates, interesting phrases were engraved in
  69. many places, sometimes next to older engravings and even over them. Graffiti from
  70. the Anglo-Boer War include names of British soldiers, an armoured train and
  71. engraving on a stone on which a Boer marksman kept score of his victims (53
  72. vertical stripes).
  73. The Vermeulen family has a long association with Vluytjeskraal. In 1882 Stephen
  74. Ockert Vermeulen (SO) bought the farm after he earned enough money as a
  75. transport driver. The engraved deal is neat and clearly readable, in the Dutch from
  76. the time, on a stone. Every 10 years, he confirmed on the stone that he still occupies
  77. the farm. His words are given here because it is symbolic of his love and affection to
  78. the ground:
  79. S. Vermeulen het deze plaas
  80. gekoop in het jaar 1882 voor de
  81. zomme van 3952 - 4 - 5
  82. alle koste bei
  83. en was nog hier in 1892
  84. en ook nog in 1902
  85. “ “ ‘’ “ 1912
  86. “ “ “ “ 1922
  87. Page 4
  88. 4
  89. “ “ “ “ 1923
  90. “ “ “ “ 1924
  91. “ “ “ “ 1925 Oupa dood 12 April 1925 B.V. (gravering deur Baby
  92. Vermeulen, ‘n kleindogter)
  93. S.O. Vermeulen changed his routine after 1922 of every tenth year of engraving and
  94. engraved again in 1923 but he made an error and wrote 1922. He tried to change
  95. the 2 to a 3 but he wasn’t very successful. He engraved the following year and again
  96. in 1925, the year in which he died. The numbers of those last 3 years were shallow
  97. and more unclear than the previous. Apparently his health wasn’t good and he knew
  98. he was going to die. Apparently it was important to S.O. that the descendants should
  99. take note of the years he owned Vluytjeskraal. On the eastern side of the hill there is
  100. still a rock with his name engraved on and every year from 1881, when he
  101. apparently came to live on the farm, till 1902 and after that a single date, 1910.
  102. According to a relative of S.O., he those the place of his grave. His grave and his
  103. house are both visible from the hill where his engraving is.
  104. S.O. Vermeulen was married to Catharine de Wet, and they had four children.
  105. According to family legend, he supplied horses to Gen. Christiaan de Wet during the
  106. war. An action that should have earned him the wrath of the English government.
  107. During that time he also assisted the residents in the concentration camp at the
  108. Orange River Station. S.O. was apparently quite wealthy and he became the owner
  109. of the first car. On his first attempt to drive, apparently without training, he landed the
  110. car in a hole and the windscreen fell out.
  111. After S.O. Vermeulen's death the original farm were split between the couple's four
  112. children. The town of Orania and the neighbouring farm is on the part that Phillipus
  113. Rudolph (born 1881) received. The original home of S.O. still stands today and is in
  114. a beautiful restored condition. In 1942, Douw Vermeulen purchased a part of
  115. Vluytjeskraal from his father's estate. He engraved the deal on his grandfather’s
  116. stone. With this act he confirmed the importance of the family to own the farm. Douw
  117. and his family's house stands in an altered state of the old dairy farm. A road has
  118. connected the two houses.
  119. There was mainly sheep farming and Douw bought the first karakul sheep in 1946
  120. into the neighbourhood. In 1950 Vluytjeskraal was sold for 5 pounds per acre to
  121. Gideon Botha.
  122. Page 5
  123. 5
  124. The Department of Water Affairs build Orania.
  125. On 23 March 1964 Mr. P.K. Le Roux, Minister of Water Affairs, announced the
  126. Orange River Scheme in the Senate: "The desert will be a paradise." In 1964
  127. Vluytjeskraal was expropriated by the Dep. Of Water Affairs for the construction of
  128. houses for workers to build the canal system south of the Orange River Scheme. In
  129. 1965, Orania was built as a complete town with five other construction camps
  130. elsewhere. By the end of 1965, 65 families lived in Orania. During the 25 years that
  131. Orania was managed by the Dep. Water Affairs, employees and their families had,
  132. by their own accounts, a good quality life. Former residents have contact with each
  133. other and visit Orania occasionally. Children who grew up and attended school also
  134. arrive there.
  135. There was a church build by the residents themselves as Water Affairs did not want
  136. to because the residents belonged to several churches. The residents attended
  137. church together. There was a white and coloured school, a shop, shooting range of
  138. Hopetown army cadets and a rugby field (Orania had two teams and had played in
  139. the Conroyliga). There was also provision for basketball, Jukskei, squash and tennis
  140. and a swimming pool. Concerts were held regularly and there were a bioscope in the
  141. community hall. Wrestling promoter, Bull Hefer had presented a tournament with
  142. wrestler John Wilkens on the rugby field. The women did the homework after which
  143. they sat under the trees and talked until it was time to prepare supper.
  144. According to the legislation of the time there were separate houses for white,
  145. coloured and black workers. Every evening at 9 o'clock the siren announced that the
  146. gate will close to the coloured neighbourhood, Groot Gewaag, and the black hostel
  147. and residents had to be back. The current Orania, east and west, were known as
  148. East and West Berlyn. Houses were pre-manufactured according to established
  149. standard floor plans include H, L, T, U shapes. Concrete was used generously for
  150. foundations and the town's roads.
  151. Although Orania was a complete town, Water Affairs associated the life span of the
  152. town to the completion of the Orange River Scheme. The southern channel system
  153. has never become a reality and there were two attempts to close Orania. In the
  154. period 1979-1982 they tried in vain to offer the town to other government
  155. departments, and again in 1989 but without success. Water personnel were
  156. transferred to larger towns and the town was empty except for a number of coloured
  157. families. Squatters began to move in and vandalism and neglect contribute to the
  158. deterioration of the town. Property received lot numbers, still visible in some places,
  159. to sell and be demolished. Farmers in the area bought houses for R5 000.00.
  160. Especially Orania West has gone through severe deterioration and there are still
  161. open stands where the foundations are visible. In a further development, the
  162. Department of Public Works and Land Affairs received Orania to sell it. Mr. J.
  163. Pretorius of Broadway, Johannesburg bought the town for R1 050 000.00 on behalf
  164. of Vluytjeskraal (Pty) Ltd (not registered). He could not obtain the necessary funds
  165. Page 6
  166. 6
  167. and Orania were sold to Orania Management Services, with Prof. Boshoff as
  168. chairman, for R1 300 000.00.
  169. Orania “Afrikaner” Home
  170. In the 1980s it was already clear that the writings were on the wall for “Afrikaner”
  171. management in South Africa. The only hope for the “Afrikaner” nation survival was its
  172. own land. The Northern Cape with its low demography and large spaces, were
  173. suited for this, according to researchers from SABRA. Nevertheless, the birth of
  174. Orania as “Afrikaner” Home was not premeditated, but the result of a combination of
  175. circumstances were opportunities often arose when it appeared that the process
  176. failed. Prof. Carel Boshoff stated that the birth almost was a miscarriage. In
  177. retrospect we realize today that the Almighty was at the helm of our destiny. On 13
  178. April 1991 Orania was officially opened as “Afrikaner” Town and National State
  179. Growth Point. The first step was given to the ideal of a homeland for “Afrikaners”.
  180. The town was neglected and partially demolished. The original infrastructure,
  181. however, survived and the newcomers could immediately start with the
  182. establishment of an “Afrikaner” Community.
  183. There are two main periods in Orania's development history distinguished viz. an
  184. establishment phase until about 2000 when the Supreme Court on 4 December
  185. ordered that Orania's Transitional Representative Council with all its powers will
  186. continue with a view to negotiations regarding autonomy. Afterword’s rapid growth in
  187. all aspects of community life that occurred and continues to this day.
  188. The first 10 years of Orania's can be reviewed as follows: The first town council is
  189. composed of shareholders of OBD but was soon succeeded by an elected town
  190. council of board members of Vluytjeskraal company shares (VCS) and a
  191. representative of OBD. Jery Pelser was the first mayor. Renus Steyn, town manager
  192. of the first years and still remaining active in town affairs, told tales of a stormy time
  193. with interesting personalities. In June 1991 the Volkskool opens with Julian Visser as
  194. head. Significant is an investigation of the Northern Cape Department of Education
  195. at the school that shows an unusually large number of children, which were tested,
  196. were gifted or highly intelligent. A number of church congregations were established
  197. to provide for the historical diversity in “Afrikaner” circles. They began to interview
  198. prospective residents. They had to relate to the society’s ideal of freedom and they
  199. had to sign the Constitution. Everyone had to understand meaning of the term
  200. "volkseie arbeid" (their own labor) and execute it. Farm 272 was purchased and a 9-
  201. km pipeline to an irrigation scheme was constructed. Vegetable production begun
  202. and also mass pecan plantations. Experimental plantings of olives and almonds
  203. were done. In April 2000 the first Volkstaat Fair were held and had a turnover of R60
  204. 000.
  205. The above mentioned are but a few events of Orania's first step toward freedom.
  206. There were a lot of prophets of doom and emulation, but gradually there was more
  207. Page 7
  208. 7
  209. understanding and even admiration for Orania as a pioneer community developed.
  210. After 2000, Orania's institutions increased and began to show a sustainability which
  211. were seen by the media and particularly by academic researchers. Orania's
  212. Development Forum, which represents Orania's institutions, acted as a
  213. brainstorming forum for ideas, and played a major role in this regard. Institutions that
  214. showed a particularly strong growth were the Orania CVO- and Orania Volkskool
  215. with increasing numbers of children from outside Orania visiting the school and
  216. making use of the Volkskool’s distance learning facility. Orania is unique and is
  217. newsworthy and it is not surprising that our town is increasingly included in tourism
  218. programs. A large number of journalists from a wide range of countries visits our
  219. community annually and represents our town to their readers.
  220. The purchase of land remains a priority and Kambro co-operative played a major
  221. role in this by the purchase of several other farms. Orania's population increased to
  222. 850 with an associated increase in demand for properties and an increase in land
  223. prices. Orania's Ora currency is sought after by collectors of bank notes and is a
  224. symbol of local economic vitality and creativity. Currently there are about 100
  225. economic sectors of different sizes operating in our town. Orania has its own flag as
  226. a symbol of their identity and political level, the Orania representative council had
  227. discussions with the Northern Cape government on our municipal status. In 2010, an
  228. Integrated Development Plan (IDP) was accepted. It is designed after an intensive
  229. investigation of all aspects of Orania's community life, by Louw van Biljon (a town
  230. planner). In order to execute the plan, the Town Council's structure has been
  231. customized to make provision for a chief executive supported by departments with
  232. their heads. Development is now a priority. By holding conferences on topics that
  233. affect “Afrikaner” freedom and expert use of media have Orania's recipe for
  234. “Afrikaner” survival become more acceptable in South Africa.
  235. On March 16, 2011 prof. Carel Boshoff died in his 83rd year of life after his wife
  236. Anna passed away three years earlier. Prof. Boshoff as former chairman of SABRA
  237. contributed to the development of the Volkstaat concept as the only long-term plan
  238. for the “Afrikaner” assertiveness. He has realized this ideal with the creation and
  239. sustainable growth of Orania as “Afrikaner” home.
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