Ohrigstad

Kevin slept in the bush last night, settling down at around 8pm. He had a place booked in a farmhouse but couldn’t find it in the dark. Instead he came across a gate which was locked, so he settled down for the night along the fence. He awoke early and packed up – it was 5am, which is what his watch indicated. Along the way it wasn’t getting lighter so he checked the time on his Blackberry – it was 2am! Guess who needs a new watch.

So by 10.30am he has only done 23km, having stopped at the farmhouse for a shower and breakfast.

He is now heading towards Ohrigstad, a small town in Limpopo which has an interesting history. The Boers reached the area in the 1840s, and the town was laid out in the winter of 1845. Hendrik Potgieter and Andries Pretorius were the major Boer commanders in the Transvaal at the time, but they hated one another. Potgieter was an “obstinate, conservative, old patriarch”, while Pretorius was a “bluff, burly, authoritative, successful farmer”, says TV Bulpin in Lost Trails of the Transvaal. But they had one thing in common: to get as far away from the British as possible. 

Potgieter spent his time trying to find a way to Lourenco Marques, in his quest for that independence. Pretorius had settled in Natal, and the Natal trekkers had dismissed Potgieter as head commandant, at a meeting in Potchefstroom. 

Eventually Potgieter left Potch with his trekkers, and settled in a “green and picturesque valley” which he’d found in 1940. The town was named Andries-Ohrigstad, Andries being one of his names, and Ohrig being a Dutch trader he’d met in Lourenco Marques. He had obtained permission from the local Pedi chief, Sekwati, to settle there, and soon the usual water furrows and a fort were built. 

But the more democratic Natal trekkers, who’d settled in Ohrigstad with him, were not happy accepting him as “the undisputed lord”. However, there were other troubles awaiting Potgieter. In winter the town was protected and pleasant. But in summer it was oppressively hot, and teaming with mosquitoes. Fever soon made its appearance. 

Disputes continued to divide the community, but in 1848-9 after a bad fever season, Potgieter decided he’d had enough of Ohrigstad, and packed up with his followers, heading towards the Soutpansberg. It became a ghost town, and a new town was established 50km south of it. 

But hopefully Kevin will find respite from the heat and dusty roads in Ohrigstad, and replenish his energy.

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About Almost there!

Scared, very scared, at the approach of 60.
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