Devils and Giants of Table Mountain

The great cleft in Table Mountain is known as Platteklip Gorge, or Platteklip Kloof. At the foot of the gorge is the suburb of Oranjezicht. This was the estate of the Van Breda family, worked by hundreds of slaves. The double-storied house was haunted, and the ghost photographed in 1900. The building was demolished in the nineteenfifties, but the ruined bandstand, and the oak trees, may still be be seen. A shadowy ghost has been seen among the trees. Another ghost, a member of the Van Breda family, rides about on a white horse. Oranjezicht is one of the places where a loyal slave is said to have hidden her master's children in a oven, to protect them from rampaging slaves. On the higher part of the Oranjezicht estate is an area called Verlatenbosch ("forsaken bush"). A leper is said to have lived here, waited on by servants. According to one version of the story, a disgruntled burgher obtained a flute infected with leprosy, and left it where the governor's son would find it. His plan worked, and the boy became a leper. Whatever the reason, as night approaches, ghostly flute music may still be heard in Verlatenbosch and Platteklip Gorge. Above Verlatenbosch, the Platteklip or Fresh River flows around granite boulders. Here, after carrying their loads from as far away as Bo-Kaap, Malay women washed their families' clothes. And here, one of these women lost a magic ring. This woman was the wife of Abdol Malack, a respected Islamic scholar. As a matter of fact he was a Hafiz, a man who had memorised the entire Koran. He had studied in Mecca, and before he came home, his late teacher had bequeathed to him the ring. Though plain except for a stone the colour of milk, Abdol found that when he wore it, no blade could cut him. He even had to remove the ring to allow a barber to cut his hair. When he returned to the Cape, the power of the ring was witnessed by many people. However, when he married, Abdol gave the ring to his beloved wife. To her surprise, she found that while wearing it, she could not even slice a loaf of bread. One day, while she was doing the laundry, the soap loosened the ring, and it was lost. Abdol Malack was still living in the middle of the twentieth century, in his house on Dorp Street, on the border of Bo-Kaap. As for the ring, observant hikers may still find a small treasure. Above the spot where the magic ring was lost, near the confluence of the Platteklip River and the Silver Stream, are the ruins of the mansion De Grendel van de Platteklip ("The bolt of the Platteklip"). The ruins are haunted by the spirit of a slave named Jaftha, and are also a favourite haunt of the demon Antjie Somers. A little above the ruins is the flat rock which gives its name to the gorge. The Platteklip Gorge is the easiest route to the top of Table Mountain, except for the cableway. Along this route, Lady Anne Barnard made the ascent with a party of friends, and so much beer that it had to be carried by six slaves. A stream in the gorge is another of the places where she is said to have bathed in her birthday suit. She haunts the castle, so why not here?

If you browse web sites pertaining to the Cape Peninsula. the southern equivalent of Atlas. for their range extends to Egypt and the Holy Land. the titan imprisoned in North Africa. the commander of the first such expedition to round the Cape. brother of Christopher. and Diaz was forced to turn back before having sailed far up the eastern coast of Africa. Terrified of the unknown dangers. the epic poem celebrating Portugal's achievements. compared to other South African mountains. Both were punished for their part in the war between the gods and the titans. a Dutch pirate called Van Hunks retired to Cape Town. It is neither particularly high nor particularly far south. Diaz died during a subsequent voyage. and warns the seafarers seeking a route to India of the terrible risks that they are taking by entering his domain. and the quantity of smoke produced becomes the "tablecloth". The closest relative of these placid animals is the elephant. According to the sixteenth century Portuguese poet Camoes. to relax at Breakfast Rock and enjoy the view. and. Characters in the tale may genuinely occur in African folklore. "the watcher of the south". I believe that this story is a modern creation. you are sure to be charmed by the hyraxes. was accompanied by the Italian Bartholomew Columbus. Van Hunks may have won. but no unrepentant sinner really beats the Devil. but the names are of Bantu origin. Every year. In the eighteenth century. perhaps with the understandable motive of having a legend about the Cape Peninsula which precedes European settlement. the mountains of the Cape Peninsula are the body of the titan Adamastor. Table Mountain's striking appearance is only noticed when approached from the direction of the nearby sea. east and north of the continent from the sea dragon Nganyamba. like Blackbeard. a cloaked stranger appeared. Diaz's crew threatened mutiny. Unfortunately. The idea of a giant turned into stone bears a striking resemblance to the Adamastor story. Also. to serve as guardians of the dry land created by the god Qamata. The "coneys" of the Bible actually refer to these animals. the top of Table Mountain is a must for visitors to the Cape. Apparently. you may come across the story of Umlindi Wemingizimu. Van Hunks is forced to repeat his duel. The other giants became mountains protecting the west. also called dassies or rock rabbits. the first European settlers found . His pleasure was increased by his pipe smoking. Adamastor takes the form of a storm cloud. This is the "tablecloth". Bartholomew Diaz. he was inordinately proud of the quantity of smoke that he could inhale without getting sick. thinking that his successful life of villainy had left him safe and comfortably rich. Apart from the amazing views. proving Adamastor right.Whether you reach the summit by foot or by cable car. you will see a layer of cloud just covering the top of Table Mountain. On and near the Cape Peninsula. both of them vanished in a puff of smoke. One day. and challenged him to a smoking duel. In the Lusiads. in a shipwreck off the coast of Southern Africa. If you are in Cape Town when the Southeaster blows (usually in the summer of the southern hemisphere). When Van Hunks realised who the stranger was. He took to climbing what is now called Devil's Peak. Table Mountain is one of four giants turned into stone by the earth goddess Djobela.

The nearest Bantu peoples lived hundreds of miles to the east. a Prometheus. or "Destroyer". if you come across an old pile of stones. and even when it isn't. and if I could keep only one book out of all of my library. with each resurrection or reincarnation. he grew in physical and spiritual stature. . is supposed to be a Dutch invention to imitate the sound of the stammering. He repeatedly overcame evil. or Tikqua. They were the Strandlopers (beach walkers). U-tixo sustained the permanent scar which gave him the name Tsui Goab. the Khoikhoi (once called "Hottentots"). light and rain. Some of the following is summarised from Penny Miller's book. Heitsi-Eibib is a mischievous character. and the San. life. (To be fair. "Hottentot" was sometimes used generically to refer both to the Khoikhoi and the Bushman. it may be a cairn identifying a site sacred to Heitsi-Eibib. who became a powerful shaman and chief. Another explanation which has been offered. however. Tsui Goab. is that because the Khoikhoi sometimes repeated words or syllables for emphasis. Kang.) Incidentally. He battled against an evil chief called Gaunab. so that Heitsi-Eibib's suggestions would not enter his mind. or "Bushmen". No doubt. it is pronounced as "t". In the final struggle against Gaunab before his ascension. Khoisan legends collected from other areas give an idea of the kind that they may have been. (According to some sources.) The Khoikhoi believed in a giant who became a sky god. and brings death to men. Although this site is mainly devoted to stories about particular places. it would be hers. Their chief deities are the sun. and an all-pervasive spirit called Kang. or Dxui. After adding a stone to the cairn. who brought life and fire to them. a Khoikhoi man would cover the back of his head with his hand while walking away. who herded livestock. is the name of the mantis being. however. Khoisan beliefs do deserve a mention here. Khoikhoi literally means "men men" or "men of men". or Kaggen. who were hunter-gatherers. until he became the sky god and supreme being. Myths And Legends Of Southern Africa. the old Dutch plural of "Hottentot". brings renewal. the moon. some will find parallels with other religions. who gathered shellfish. The two explanations are not necessarily mutually exclusive. Tsui Goab began his existence as an ordinary man called U-tixo. in the form of Gaunab.) The mantis was not particularly sacred to the Khoikhoi. Afrikaners call the praying mantis "Hottentotsgod" or "hotnotsgod". the Dutch thought that they were stammering. divided into three nomadic cultures. One explanation for the name "Hottentot". in fact. (Sometimes the final "d" is replaced by a "t". (Penny Miller is an artist as well as a writer.) The Bushmen regarded the mantis as a titan. In the Cape. is that the Khoikhoi encountered by early European travellers danced and performed a song of greeting. Gaunab still lives in darkness. called Tsui Goab ("Wounded Knee"). but sometimes died. The meaningless word "Hottentotten". However.people nowadays classed as the Khoisan race. Khoisan legends specific to the Cape Peninsula do not seem to have survived European colonisation. in which the word "hautitou" was prominent. Fortunately. I think that in the circumstances. Tragically. comparable with Puck.

of so-called "Cape Malays". Mozambique."San" is now the politically correct term for the Bushmen. Sri Lanka. is. For the layman. in its less malevolent form. . India. The character of Antjie Somers. Indonesia and Malacca. as nobody who admires people skilled in bushcraft could use it in any uncomplimentary way. and early European travellers sometimes called them "Sonqua". I prefer the name "Bushmen". for instance. Most of the surviving legends of the Cape Peninsula originated in the community. "Sonqua" probably gives a better approximation of the right way to pronounce the names. comparable with that of Heitsi-Eibib. but is actually the derogatory name for them used by the Khoikhoi. Personally. They are actually descendants of slaves and exiles from Madagascar. The Khoikhoi called the Bushmen "Sankhoi". now mostly Islamic. but Khoisan people were sometimes married by escaped slaves. Modern transliteration of indigenous names has increased their mispronunciation by laymen. It is therefore possible that some of the Cape's folklore has been translated and modified from indigenous Khoisan legend.

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