Piet van Rooien

Piet van Rooien was born on a farm just outside Clanwilliam in 1936. He says he braais the best roosterbrood (bread) in Clanwilliam.

Piet van Rooien tells of his life in Clanwilliam today and of growing up. He shares stories of Saturday nights dancing riel, collecting water in the dry riverbed, and making goatskin bags.

Piet van Rooien was born in 1936 on a farm outside Clanwilliam, but moved to the town. The houses in that time were built of clay bricks and had roofs of straw or thatch. The floors were also made of clay and were polished, and the roads were not tarred. Piet did not go to school. He tells of the one and only time he spent in prison – how afraid he was and how God protected him.

Piet speaks of the values his father taught him. He says that he watched his mother braaing roosterbrood in the oven growing up and now makes it himself. He says is the best roosterbrood braaier in Clanwilliam – people love it. His youngest daughter and his grandchildren take care of him now. He participates in prayer groups and does home visits to the sickly.

Piet tells a funny story of two elderly people who unexpectedly got married, but then the man passed away on their wedding night. Piet was born on a farm named Drilrivier. He explains that they got water from the river, as there were no taps back then. They dug holes in the dry riverbed, which filled with ice-cold water. These were called goras.

Piet’s father played the concertina and Piet did rieldans. On Saturday nights people from the town got together, played music, danced riel and ate. He made eyes at the pretty girls he saw there. If the families knew someone was coming to visit from afar, they would slaughter a goat to eat. Piet tells of people from the city coming to visit and not understanding the slaughtering, nor how milk comes from cows.

Piet explains where to find rock art and how the gora works – the hole dug in the river that sucks up water. He also explains how sakslag was done and how their bags were made from goatskin.


Piet van Rooien. Born 1936, the 20th September, on the farm Drilrivier, behind the Pappies(??) Mountains, on the farm of Kotze Oelsteen(??). I was born there, in the (inaudible 00:50). Can I continue? As time passed, I came to work in the town, when my parents moved to town, and my first work as a child – I’m very keen on work, from my childhood until today, at the age of 80.

And, then I came to live in town and I grew up here, known by the people in the town. And that time life was, houses were not like today. Proper houses with corrugated iron roofs, and… We had thatched roofs, grass or reeds. And people didn’t have tiles and those things on the floors in the houses in those days. Houses were built using clay. Clay bricks. And clay was also used for the floors and then they polished it. Not real polish like you buy in the shop. Those days people smeared the houses, verandas. Now, I always tell people, I don’t want to say with cow dung, so I say with (inaudible 02:10). So the houses were smeared. Veranda. And all that. That was the way I grew up here in town. Now, I’ve told you that I worked. And the houses in those days, there were no inside toilets and those things. Toilets were outside. The municipality cleaned them, every month you paid something for that.

And, as I said, I didn’t go to school either. There were schools on the farms, but at that time, it was still apartheid, and there were also not that many schools on the farms, so that you could go to school and be educated.

But what the Lord did for me up to now I can take as my (inaudible 03:00), you know. When I was younger, I still followed the wrong path. The Lord saved my soul, I can tell you that. And, so one time I was in jail. Locked up. And, I was waiting for the trial. And when I got there – it was the first time, so you’re a bit scared. When I got there in the afternoon, up there at the jail – you know where it is? That jail there. So the policeman took me up and so a “dinges” was placed on me. You also get your small mattress there, your sponge mattress, to sleep and sit on.

Now, there were two other guys as well. Three men in one cell. Now, the one guy was a very dangerous man. He was a blue jacket [convict]. When I saw the man, I think I became a bit timid because of the man. And, that evening, we were together in a cell and they asked me if I smoked.

And I say yes, and they ask, “Where’s your smoking stuff?”

I say, “No, the smoking stuff stayed behind. There at the front”.

And they say, “No, go get it. You may smoke, you haven’t been sentenced yet.”

[looks elsewhere] Does that bother you? We’ll just close the door. That one doesn’t stop talking when he sees people.

And, so I went and got my smoking stuff. The cell wasn’t that big, so I made my bed at the feet of their mattresses. So I went to get my smoking stuff and when I got back, the two of them had made my bed between theirs.

So I simply said, “But why must I lie between the two of you? What’s going to happen here tonight?”

So we sat there, and the one was a blue jacket. They got him here on the West Coast, but he escaped. Off the ship. So then two detectives came to see if there were not maybe diamonds and those things there. And that afternoon I saw how good the Lord is to one. I was scared of the two of them because night was coming. And you know, they couldn’t really look at me, they were peeping-peeping at me sideways. I don’t have much hair, but the few small ones here, they were standing erect. So I was quite scared. I’m not ashamed to say it.

And at the jail you have to be quick – if the guys call you, you can’t still be on your way, you have to jump. And as I sat there, the Word of the Lord came to me, “Not a hair off your head will fall without the Lord knowing about it.” And I was still sitting and mulling that thought in my brain when they unlocked the door and said, “Piet van Rooien.” So I hurried outside.

And there were two detectives. Now, guess what those men had done? They would’ve gone to sleep that Sunday night… Man, the Lord is good. I cannot but repeat it. And when the detectives came… Now, you lie on rugs made of rope. So they had unpicked some of the rope, made long strands with a handhold, and the ceiling is old, you know, it was Jan van Riebeeck’s jail that time. The plates on the roof are old. So they broke a big hole out of the ceiling and then you take the two vats that were there, the one is the water vat and the other one is the pee vat, and so. And then they place one on top of the other, and then the one climbs on top and then he grabs those beams that the ceiling is fixed to, then he hoists himself out and then he sits up there and hoists the other one up with that rope. And the plates are old plates, you know, rusted old plates. They then push them away with their heads and they escape. And they were going to do it that evening. But the Lord prevented it.

When the detectives came – now a detective has an open head, man – they saw everything. The jailers are there, but they haven’t spotted it yet. The hole up there, that was broken open, is already completed, and the ropes, and those vats that they stand on and how they can just push those plates away with their heads and they’re gone.

Okay. They then ask the jailers whether they saw that men had already escaped. Heh-eh. Okay, away they go. They go get their batons. Then they really hit them. And I say here in my heart, “Ah, thank you, Jesus, that they are being moered*.” Because what was their plan for me that night? And the Lord saw it and came through.

Okay, then the one is placed in another cell and they shackle the other one and then they say I can sleep there with him. Then I say, no, I don’t want to sleep with the young man, I’m scared of him.

“No, you can sleep here. We are in the office the whole night, and there is a bell, you only have to press it. We are here. And don’t listen to what he says, he’s a jailbird.”

Okay. They made my bed between theirs. Then I make my bed on this side against the wall and I say to him, “Listen here, you lie there against the wall and just you dare and touch me.”

Then I became a bit, I got the power, and that other one is in the other cell and I sleep with him. And there was another grandpa, Grandpa Willie Sambrollo (?? 09:15), here in town. That time there were no warders yet. Brother (??) and April (?? 09:19) were the first warders. Now the old big man is Gert September, and old Willem, Willie Sambrollo, and another grandpa, they always worked with the convicts in the fields, in the gardens and so on.

And eh, then Grandpa Willie says to me, he reads the pamphlet to me through the keyhole. Then Grandpa says to me, “My child, I also lay here in the cell where you are now, and it was because Grandpa walked in front of the Lord.” And the morning when we come out, he says, “From tomorrow you walk in front of me and I behind me.”

And that I took to heart. As the grandpa said. I also told my friends around me, “It’s the first time in my life that I come here, and it will be the last time. I’m never coming back. I’m going to give my whole life to the Lord and the Lord will protect me.”

And that is now yes and amen, because the Lord has protected me up to eighty years to where I’m sitting this morning and I’m not going to jail again.

You know, my pa taught us that you have to work with your hands. And that you have to be sincere, you mustn’t take stuff that belongs to other people. And my pa taught me to say thank you and please, and good morning and good evening. And I learnt from my pa, my pa was not someone who took other people’s stuff. My pa worked for us, my pa looked after livestock and my pa also worked on the farm. And the farmer was very good to us. Ahh, every end of the year he came to the cattle post when he branded the lambs and then my pa also worked.

And thus I grew up. We did… That time we ground wheat with hand milling stones, you know, and we had an oven in which my ma baked, or braaied* grill bread* for us children. That is why I still do it today, I saw what my ma did. I am the best braaier* of grill bread in Clanwilliam. And the people buy, they’re mad about my grill bread, that’s what all the people coming to Clanwilliam say.

And there I’ll leave it. It’s nice, good to work. This is my youngest daughter sitting here. He* looks after me and I have a few grandchildren who look after Grandpa, whom I love very much, and so on. Don’t drink wine, don’t smoke dagga* and cigarettes. Don’t know those things, and your body is the temple of the Lord and I’m proud of it.

Our work as prayer group in the town is also for our people who are old, who are sick. Last night I was with a man who is lying in bed with cancer and that’s what I now deal with in my old age. And I’m glad I follow this path.

When I was about 70, I asked the Lord, the day that the Lord gave me 80 years – okay, you can say that (inaudible 02:25). So I said to the Lord, the time that the Lord gave me, I didn’t want to, I didn’t want to have (inaudible 02:34). I wanted to be just as thankful as when I was 20. And until now the Lord has been good to me. I’m a happy man, I like to laugh, I like talking, and I like eating and all those things.

I had a cousin, small Wium (??02:51), Tolla van der Merwe, you know of him? That was my cousin. And he could tell many stories. And so he told a story about an uncle and an auntie who were living in the old age home. And the two of them sat on the stoep and talked to each other. And they said how much they loved each other. And then they reached a point… “We’re not too old, we can marry.” And then they asked the matron to organise it for them – not the matron of Sewende Laan*.

And so they marry, and in the evening they go to bed and so on, and then the old man has a heart attack and he dies that night. And so they have the dominee come the next day, to sympathise with her.

And the dominee says, “Oh, sister, we’re so sorry that old Willem departed last night.”

So the old woman says, “Yes, Dominee, I was still thinking he was coming when he w-e-e-n-t.”


Was there a river where you grew up?

There is a river.

Are there maybe stories that the older people told? Stories about the river, or things that happened there?

Yes, look, the river was so, at the time we didn’t have taps in the house for water. When the river had water, we scooped water out of the river. Then when the river is maybe dry, you can dig a gorra for yourself, out of which you can then scoop water. In that sandy river, you know.

Explain the gorra.

Gorra. You dig a hole and then the water oozes in, nice cold water, like fridge water. So that’s basically your water, your drinking water and your bathing water. Thus I know Drilrivier and Drilrivier was a farm that had grapes, prickly pears and all those things. Ploughed wheat lands and sowed and so on.

Were people maybe scared of certain pools in the river?

No, there was no fear, there were also dams. An irrigation ditch runs from Travellaar Res, if you know where that is. Now, a river runs from Travellaar Res, and from there a ditch – there is this big hill, at the farm, and the ditch runs all along the ridges, from which the farmers irrigate their fields, and so on. And it was also our drinking water.

Did your father tell you any ghost stories?

Y-e-e-s, my, my pa always, my pa played the concertina, and then we danced, the people. Like they dance long arm today, and so on – in our day we danced the riel. I’m actually also a riel dancer. And, that’s what we grew up with and, and one night my pa and ma went dancing, and when they came from the house, from the dance, back home, came home to sleep, then the devil came, then the devil showed the way my pa should have walked, you see. And then my pa started scolding him and said, “No, no, you dance as if you’re scared of the devil.”


Now yes, so we… Okay, there were many things. But one forgets these things. Also, when you’re as old as I am now, already 80 years, your thinking changes as well, you become like a child again… says the Bible. And I forget so much already, the only thing I still have to forget, is that my name is Piet, then…

Where and when did you dance the riel?

Man, we, weekends, Saturday nights people gathered and made music and then the people danced, especially New Year and those times. People visited each other, animals were slaughtered and we ate nicely, and we danced nicely, and you were young, and there were young girls, flirting, and all of that. And eh, so it was a nice time.

I know of another woman who went to work in the Cape. But it wasn’t here, it was in Namaqualand. Who went to work in the Cape. She boarded with another woman, boarded with another woman, and then she wrote to her pa that she was coming down and so she brought the woman with whom she boarded. And that one now brought three children she had. Okay, and at that time the people still slaughtered when someone came visiting. If you were coming to me this morning, I knew about it and slaughtered a goat, then we ate nicely.

But of course the Cape people don’t know about slaughtering, they buy their meat at the butcher. And so when they got there, the uncle had slaughtered the goat, they came that morning. Now, you pull the intestines out, don’t you, the rectum and the liver and those things. They get braaied*. Now, the Cape children didn’t know this and that woman also didn’t know it.

And so she watched, then she said, “We’ll pack our bags and take the taxi home, my children don’t eat shit guts.”

Now, the grandpa brings the liver and all those things. Now, ahh, the girls don’t really want to, didn’t grow up like we did. When I worked at the agricultural school, they milked the cattle and made butter, those things. Then children came to watch.

So the foreman said to them, “The milk is clean, it goes through the separator, here comes the cream, you make butter and all those things, and cheese, and all those things from this.”

And, the children looked at one another and they said, no, they don’t drink this milk. Their ma buys milk for them in boxes in the shop.

Now, the milk goes from the cow to the box. Ye-e-es…

At Drilrivier, was there a place with Bushman drawings or suchlike that you know of?

Yes, I think over there, across the river, there are rocks, there are signs of Bushmen.

Are there maybe stories that you’ve heard about that place where the Bushman drawings were?

No, not really – there along the river, there at Drilrivier along the river in the direction of Bessiesfontein (?? 10:48), and above Travellaars Res, up there, in the river, there are many cliffs, you know, where, where that other eating place is now, there above the restau-..

Oh, yes.

Now, there are many holes in the rocks, aren’t there? There are still many drawings of… That is why that place is Boesmanskloof.

You spoke of the holes that you dug to get to water. What was the name again?


Gorra. Where did you get the name or did you hear it from your father and them?

Yes, I heard from them about digging gorra in the river. And then you scoop out your water. Look, it filters the water, and it is the nicest cool water. Even the whites used it in the house, and so on. Until later when, taps were installed and reservoirs full of water, and those things.

Yes, and eh, the school was at, at Bessiesfontein. The children went to school there, and so on. But it wasn’t for us. Only the whites went to school there. But, tha-, I don’t let that become part of me, so that today I don’t look at the apartheid years and those things, that is not what I look at. I’m satisfied with how I grew up. It was nice to grow up in such way and this old world is so messed up, one shouldn’t look at those things as well.

Do you know “sakslag” [“bag slaughtering”]?


Can you explain to us what it is?

You slaughter the goat, cut off its head, and then you remove it from its behind, because the bag goes narrower towards the top. So you skin it and then you treat the skin, and you… I mean, you first place it in… There’s a plant they call “slaai”, you take that and you sort of pickle it, you know, like you would pickle something. Then the hairs will come off easily. Remove the hair. Then you get the trees, rockwood [Heeria argentea], wild olive… rockwood. They crush the bark finely, okay, and then they push it in there and then you have the red box. That was how people made it, and the grey one, and so on.

And it has a dinges* so that you can carry it on your back. It is a piggyback bag. I also carried it – wheatears on the farm, then I have my box behind my back and then we did (13:50) made of my goat bag.

So, all those things, like I said: grinding with stones, with hand milling stones, grinding the wheat, and my ma prepared the yeast, dinges, made salt-rising yeast, and al those things, yes.

Piet van Rooien is in 1936 op ’n plaas buite Clanwilliam gebore. Hy sê hy is die beste roosterbroodbraaier op Clanwilliam.

Piet praat oor sy kinderjare en die lewe op Clanwilliam vandag. Hy vertel hoe hulle Saterdagaande die riel gedans het, water uit gate in die droë rivierloop gaan skep het, en bokvelsakke gemaak het.

Piet van Rooien is in 1936 op ’n plaas buite Clanwilliam gebore, maar het met verloop van jare dorp toe getrek. Destyds was die huise strooi- of rietdakhuise en van kleistene gebou. Die vloere is met klei uitgesmeer en gepoleer, en die strate was nie geteer nie. Piet het nie skoolgegaan nie. Hy vertel van die eerste en enigste keer wat hy in die tronk was – hoe bang hy was en hoe God hom beskerm het.

Piet vertel van die waardes wat sy pa vir hom geleer het. Hy sê toe hy klein was het hy sy ma dopgehou wanneer sy roosterbrood in die oond gebraai het, daarom doen hy dit vandag nog so. Hy sê hy is die beste roosterbroodbraaier in Clanwilliam – en die mense is mal daaroor. Sy jongste dogter en sy kleinkinders kyk nou na hom. Hy is deel van ’n gebedsgroep en doen huisbesoek by siek bejaardes.

Piet vertel ’n snaakse storie van ’n omie en ’n tannie in die ouetehuis wat onverwags getroud is, maar toe sterf die omie op hulle huweliksnag. Piet is op ’n plaas genaamd Drilrivier gebore. Hy verduidelik dat hulle water by die rivier gaan haal het, want destyds was daar nie krane in die huise nie. As die rivier droog was, het hulle gate in die rivier gegrawe, dan het die yskoue water daar ingesyfer. Hierdie gate is gorras genoem.

Piet se pa het die konsertina bespeel en Piet het die riel gedans. Op Saterdagaande het die dorpsmense bymekaar gekom, musiek gemaak, die riel gedans en geëet. Hy het ogies gemaak vir die mooi meisies. As hulle hoor dat iemand van ver af kom kuier, het hulle ’n bok geslag. Piet vertel van mense uit die stad wat kom kuier het en nie die slagtery kon verduur nie. Die kinders het ook nie geweet dat melk van ’n koei af kom nie.

Piet verduidelik waar ’n mens rotskuns kan sien en hoe die gorra werk – die gat wat in die droë rivier gegrawe word en vol water syfer. Hy verduidelik ook wat sakslag is en hoe om ’n sak van bokvel te maak.


Piet van Rooien. Gebore 1936, die 20ste September op die plaas Drilrivier, agter die Pappies(??)berge en dit was die plaas van Kotze Oelsteen (??). Daar is ek gebore in die (onhoorbaar 00:50). Kan ek maar aangaan? Met die verloop van jare het ek in die dorp kom werk toe my ouers dorp toe kom trek, enne, my eerste werk as kind, ek is baie lief vir werk, van kindsdag af tot vandag op tagtig jaar se ouderdom.

Enne, toe het ek in die dorp kom bly en hier grootgeword en bekend met die mense in die dorp, en daai tyd was die lewe, huise, nie soos vandag nie. Geboude huise met sinkdakke en … dit was maar strooidakhuise en rietdakhuise. En die mense het nie daai tyd teëls en goeters op die vloere gehet in die huise nie. Hulle was met klei gebou. Kleistene. En die vloer was ook met klei ingesit en dan het hulle hom ook gepolish. Dit was nou nie regte politoer soos wat mens in die winkel koop nie. Daai tyd het die mense die huise uitgesmeer. Stoepe. Nou sê ek vir die mense altyd ek wil nou nie sê met beesmis nie, dan sê maar met (onhoorbaar 02:10). Dan’s dit nou uitgesmeer. Stoepe. En al daai. So het ek maar grootgeword hier in die dorp. Nou ek sê ek het gewerk. En soos die huise gewees het, toe was daar nog nie binnetoilets en daai goed. Toilets was buite. Die munisipaliteit het dit skoongemaak, in die maande het jy dan iets daarvoor betaal.

Enne, soos ek sê, ek het ook nie skoolgegaan nie. Daar was skool op die plase, maar dit was nou maar daardie tyd gewees, nog apartheid gewees het en daar was ook nie so baie skole op die plase nie, sodat jy kan skoolgaan en gelerentheid gekry het nie.

Maar wat die Here vir my gedoen het tot hiertoe kan ek as ek my (onhoorbaar 03:00) vat, kyk, en toe ek jonger was, was ek maar ook nog op die verkeerde paaie gewees. Die Here my siel gered het, kan ek sê. Enne, toe was ek nou eenkeer in die gevangenis. Ook opgesluit. Enne, toe het ek waiting trail gelê. En toe ek nou daar kom, dit was die eerste keer, lat ’n man maar bietjie bangerig. Toe ek nou die agtermiddag daar kom, hier bo by die tronk, jy weet waar dit is? Die tronk nou daar. Toe bring die polisieman my nou op en toe word ek nou daar ’n dinges opgesit. Daar kry jy nou jou matrassie, en jou spons, waar jy nou op slaap en sit. En toe was daar nou twee jongens ook. Drie manne in een sel. Nou, die een ou was ’n baie gevaarlike man. Hy was ’n bloubaadjie gewees. Toe ek nou die man sien, toe dink ek het bietjie souerig geraak vir die man. Enne, ahem, die aand is ons nou saam in ’n sel en toe vra hulle vir my of ek rook. En ek sê ja, en hulle vra: “Waar is jou rookgoed?” Ek sê: “Nee, die rookgoed het hier agtergebly. Daar voor.” En hulle sê: “Nee, maar gaan kry dit. Jy mag rook, jy het nog nie straf gekry nie.”

[Kyk na iemand anders] Is dit hinderlik? Ons sal net die deur toetrek. Hy’s ’n ou wat aanhou praat as hy mense sien.

Enne, toe gaan haal ek my rookgoed en die sel is nou nie juis breed nie. Toe’t ek my kooi sommer onder by die voetenent gemaak en toe ek nou my rookgoed gaan haal, as ek nou terugkom, toe’t hulle twee nou my kooi tussen hulle s’n gemaak. Toe sê ek maar: “Maar hoekom moet ek nou tussen julle lê? Wat gaan nou vanaand hier gebeur?”

En ons loop toe nou en sit daarso en die een was ’n bloubaadjie. Hulle het hom hier op die Weskus kom kry, toe’t hy uitgebreek daarso. Skip af. Toe kom daar nou twee speurders wat nou kom kyk of daar nie miskien diamante en daai goeters. En daai agtermiddag toe sien ek nou hoe goed die Here vir mens is. Ek is toe nou bang vir hulle twee, want die nag lê mos nou voor. En hulle kan nou mos nie juis vir my kyk nie, maar net so onderlangs loer-loer vir my en so. En ek het nie juis hare nie, maar die ou paartjies wat hier staan, staan hulle so bietjie regop. Toe’s ek darem bietjie bang. Ek is nie skaam om dit te sê nie.

En by die tronk moet jy baie gou wees, as die manne op jou nommer druk, dan moet jy nie nog kom nie, dan moet jy sommer daar spring. En ek sit so, toe kom die woord van die Here by my wat sê: “ ’n Haar sal nie uit jou hoof uitval en die Here weet nie daarvan nie.” En ek sit nog daai gedagte en maal so in my brein, toe sluit hulle die deur oop en hulle sê: “Piet van Rooien.” Toe spring ek buitekant uit. En daar kom twee speurders aan. Nou raai wat het daai manne gedoen? Hulle sou daai Sondagaand gaan slaap het … man, die Here is goed. Ek kan nie anders as om dit te gesê het nie. Enne, toe die speurders aankom, nou dis matjies wat jy op lê, gemaak van tou. Toe’t hulle van die tou uitgerye, lang stringe gemaak, met ’n handvatsel aan, en die ceiling is nou mos oud, dis Jan van Riebeeck se tronk gewees daai tyd. Die plate is ou plate wat daar op die dak is. Dan het hulle ’n groot gaat uitgebreek uit die ceiling en dan vat jy nou die twee balies wat nou daar is, die een is die waterbalie en die ander een is nou die piebalie, en daai. En dan maak jy hulle op mekaar staan, en dan klim die een mos nou bo-op en dan vat hy daai balkies, waar die ceiling vas is, dan hys hom uit en dan sit hy daar bo en dan trek hy nou die ander een met daai tou op. En die plate is mos nou ou plate, geroeste ou plate. Dan druk hulle dit met die kop uit en dan ontsnap hulle. En dit gaan hulle nou daai aand gedoen het. Maar die Here verhoed dit.

Toe die speurders inkom, nou ’n speurder het mos ’n oop kop, man, toe sien hulle sommer alles. En die jailers is daarso, maar hulle het dit nog nie gesien nie. Daardie gaat daar bo wat oopgebreek is al klaar, en die toue, en daai balies wat hulle op staan en hoe hulle daai plate kan sommer met hulle koppe uitdruk en weg is hulle.

Oukei. Toe vra hulle nou vir die jailers of hulle al gesien het dat manne klaar ontsnap het. Huh-uh. Oukei, weg is hulle. Toe gaat haal hulle nou hulle se batons. Toe slaat hulle darem nou vir hulle. En ek sê hier in my hart: “Ag, dankie Jesus, lat hulle gemoer word”. Want wat was hulle plan nou vanaand met my en die Here het dit gesien en het deurgekom.

Oukei, toe raak die een nou in ’n ander sel gesit en die ander een boei hulle en toe sê hulle ek kan nou maar hier by hom slaap. Toe sê ek, nee, ek wil nie by die jong slaap nie, ek is bang vir hom.

“Nee, jy kan maar hier slaap. Ons is heelaand op kantoor, en daar is so ’n klokkie, jy kan dit net druk. Ons is hier. En moenie luister wat hy sê nie, hy’s ’n tronkvoël.”

Oukei. Hulle het my kooi tussen hulle s’n gemaak. Toe maak ek nou my kooi diékant teen die muur en ek sê vir hom: “Hoor hier, jy lê daar teen die muur en waag jy nou en raak aan my.”

Toe raak ek nou bietjie, kry ek power in, en daai ander een is in die ander sel en ek slaap toe nou by hom. En ’n ander oupa, Oupa Willie Sambrollo (?? 09:15)was hier in die dorp gewees. Daai tyd was daar nog nie bewaarders gewees nie. Broer (??) en April (?? 09:19) was die eerste bewaarders gewees. Nou, die ou groot man is Gert September en ou Willem, Willie Sambrollo, en nog ’n ander oupa, hulle het altyd met die bandiete gewerk op die landerye, op die tuine en daai goed.

Enne, toe sê Oupa Willie vir my, lees hy die traktaatjie vir my deur die sleutelgat. Toe sê Oupa vir my: “My kind, ek het ook hier in die sel gelê waar jy nou is, en dit was omdat Oupa het voor die Here geloop.” En die môre toe ons uitloop, toe sê hy: “Van môre af loop jy voor my en ek agter my.”

En daai het ek toe ook daar vir my gevat. Soos die oupa gesê het. Ek het vir vriende daar rondom my ook gesê: “Dis die eerste keer in die lewe dat ek hier kom, en dit gaan die laaste maal wees. Ek gaan nooit weer terugkom nie. Ek gaan my hele lewe vir die Here gee en die Here sal my bewaar. En daai is nou ja en amen, want die Here het my bewaar tot tagtig jaar waar ek vanmôre sit en ek gaan nie weer tronk toe nie.”

Jy weet, my pa het vir ons geleer dat jy moet werk met jou hande. En dat jy moet getrou wees, jy moenie goed vat wat aan ander mense behoort nie. En dan het my pa vir my geleer om te sê dankie, en asseblief, môre, en naand. En dan het ek geleer by my pa, my pa was nie iemand wat ander mense se goed gevat het nie. My pa het vir ons gewerk, my pa het vee opgepas en dan het my pa in die plaas ook gewerk. En die boer was vir ons baie goed gewees. Ahh, hy’t altyd elke end van die jaar kom hy op die veepos wanneer hy die lammers kom merk en dan het my pa ook gewerk.

Enne, so het ek grootgeword. Ons het … in daai tyd het ons die koring met die gatskuur gemaal, nè, en dan het ons ’n oond gehet wat my ma in bak, of roosterbrood gebraai het vir ons kinders. Daarom doen ek dit vandag nog, ek het dit gesien wat my ma gedoen het. Ek is die beste roosterbroodbraaier in Clanwilliam. En die mense koop, hulle is mal oor my roosterbrood, so sê al die mense wat in Clanwilliam kom.

En daarby sal ek bly. Dis lekker, goed om te werk. Dis my jongste dogter wat nou hier sit. Hy kyk na my en ek het ’n paar kleinkinders ook wat na Oupa kyk, waarvoor ek baie lief is, en al so voorts. Drink nie wyn nie, rook nie dagga en sigarette nie. Ken nie daai goed nie, en jou liggaam is die tempel van die Here en daarop is ek trots.

Ons werk is die dorp as gebedsgroep ook vir ons mense wat oud is, wat siek is. Ek was gisteraand weer by een man wat met kanker lê in die bed en daai’s nou waarmee ek deel nou op my oudag. En ek is bly ek loop so.

Toe ek hier by sewentig gewees het, toe’t ek vir die Here gevra as die Here my die dag tagtig gee, oukei, jy kan sê (onhoorbaar 02:25). Toe’t ek vir die Here gesê, ek wil nie daai tyd wat die Here vir my gee, ek sit nou met (onhoorbaar 02:34) nie. Ek wil net so dankbaar wees as toe ek twintig en daai gewees het. En tot hiertoe is die Here vir my goed. Ek is ’n bly man, ek hou van lag, ek hou van gesels, en ek hou van eet en al daai goed. En ek het ’n neef gehad, hierdie klein Wium (??02:51), Tolla van der Merwe, julle ken van hom? Dit was my neef gewees. En hy kon baie storietjies vertel.

En toe vertel hy ’n storietjie van ’n omie en tannie wat nou in die outehuis gewoon het. En hulle twee het nou maar so op die stoep gesit en gesels met mekaar. En nou vertel hoe lief hulle nou vir mekaar is. En toe kom hulle nou daar tot ’n punt, maar ons is nog nie te oud, ons kon trou. En toe vra hulle nou vir Matrone om vir hulle te reël – dis nou nie die matrone van Sewende Laan nie. En toe trou hulle nou, en nou die aand gaan slaap en als so voorts, en toe kry die ou man ’n hartaanval en hy sterwe maar die aand. En toe laat kom hulle weer die dominee die anderdagmôre om met haar te kom simpatiseer.

En toe sê die dominee nou: “Ai, ou suster, ons is so jammer dat ou neef Willem gisteraand weg is.”

Toe sê die ou vrou: “Ja, dominee, ek het nog gedink hy kom, toe g-a-a-n hy.”


Nou Oom, daar op Helderrivier (??04:00) wat Oom nou grootgeword het. Oom-hulle het mos water iewers vandaan gekry. Was daar ’n rivier?

Daar’s ’n rivier.

Oom, is daar stories wat die ouer mense vertel het miskien? Stories van die rivier, of dinge wat daar plaasgevind het?

Ja, kyk, die rivier was so, daai tyd het ons nie krane by die huis gehet vir water. As die rivier water het, dan het ons in die rivier water geskep. Dan is die rivier miskien nou opgedroog, dan kan jy vir jou ’n gorra grawe, waaruit jy dan water skep. In daai sandrivier, nè.

Verduidelik net die gorra.

Gorra. Jy grou hom ’n gat en dan syg die water in, lekker kou water, soos yskaswater, en dan, daai’s basies jou water, jou drinkwater, en jou badwater. So ken ek vir Drilrivier en Drilrivier is ’n plaas gewees wat druiwe het, turksvye en al daai goeters gehet. Koringlande geploë en gesaai en al so voorts.

Die mense was nie miskien bang gewees vir sekere gate daar in die rivier nie?

Nee, daar was nie ’n bang gewees nie. Daar was damme ook gewees. Daar loop ’n voor van Travellaar Res af, as jy nou weet waar dit is. Nou van Travellaar Res kom daar ’n rivier af, en daarvan af kom ’n voor – nou is hier so ’n groot kop, by die plaas, en dan kom die voor al daar teen die rante om waar die boere mee hulle landerye natlei, en al so voort. En dit was ons drinkwater gewees ook.

Oom se pa het nie miskien vir Oom spookstories en dié tipe goeters vertel nie? Onthou Oom niks, miskien een of twee?

J-a-a, my, my pa het altyd van, my pa het konsertina gespeel, en dan’t ons gedans, die mense. Soos hulle maar vandag langarm dans, en daai goed. So’t ons riel gedans. Ek is eintlik ook ’n rieldanser. Enne, daarmee het ons grootgeword en, en een aand het my pa-hulle gaan dans, en toe hulle nou van die huis af, van die dans af nou by huis toe kom, nou kom slaap, toe kom die duiwel, toe wys die duiwel nou vir my pa hoe moes my pa geloop het, jy sien. En toe beginne my pa nou raas, en toe sê: “Nee, nee, jy dans dan so asof jy bang vir die duiwel is.”


Nou ja, so het ons … oukei, daar was baie goedjies gewees. Maar mens vergeet mos eintlik nou dié goed ôk. Dis ôk maar, as jy so oud is as ek nou, wat nou al tagtig jaar is, jou denke verander ook, jy word weer soos ’n kind … sê die Bybel. En ek vergeet nou al so baie, ek moet nog net vergeet my naam is Piet, dan.

Die danse wat Oom gedoen het, die rieldanse – by watter geleenthede was dit gewees, of wanneer het Oom-hulle dit gedans?

Man, ons, naweke, Saterdagaande het die mense ook maar bymekaargekom, en dan was daar nou musiek gespeel en dan het die mense gedans, veral Nuwejaar, en daai goeters. Die mense het na mekaar toe gegaan, dit was geslag gewees, en dit was lekker geëet, en dit was lekker gedans en jy was jonk, en daar was jong meisies, oë geknip, en al daai goedjies. Enne, so was dit lekker gewees in daai tyd gewees.

Ek weet van ’n ander vroutjie wat in die Kaap gaan werk het, maar dit was nou nie hier nie, dit was in Namakwaland. Wat nou in die Kaap gaan werk het. Toe by ’n ander vroutjie losies het, en by ’n ander vroutjie losies het, en toe skrywe sy nou vir haar pa, sy kom af en dan bring sy nou daai vrou saam wat sy by losies. En dié’t nou drie kinders ôk wat hulle saambring. Oukei, en daai tyd het die mense nog geslag as iemand kom kuier of so. As julle nou vanmôre by my nou gekom het, dan weet ek daarvan en ’n bok geslag, dan het ons lekker geëet.

Maar die Kaapse mense ken mos nou nie slag so nie, hulle koop nou maar vleis by die slaghuis. En toe hulle nou daar kom, het die oom die bok geslag, kom hulle die môre. Nou ryg jy mos die derms uit, nè, vetderm en die lewer en daai goed. Word nou gebraai. Nou die Kaapse kinders ken mos nou nie dit nie en die vroumens het dit ook nie geken nie.

En toe kyk sy nou so, toe sê sy: “Ons pak ons goed en ons vat die taxi huis toe, my kinders eet nie kakderms nie.”

Nou, die oupa bring nou die lewer en al daai goed. Nou, ahh, die meisiekinders wil nie eintlik, soos ons grootgeword het nie. Toe ek by die Landbouskool gewerk het, het hulle mos gaan melk, die bees, en botter gemaak, daai goed. Toe kom daar nou ook kinders wat kyk.

Toe sê die voorman vir hulle: “Die melk is skoon, hy kom deur die skeier, hier kom die room, jy maak botter en al daai goed, en kaas, en al daai goed hiervan.”

Enne, toe kyk die kinders mekaar so, toe sê hulle: “Nee, hulle drink nie dié melk nie. Hulle ma koop vir hulle in die winkel melk in boksies.”

Nou, die melk kom van die koei af na die boksie. Ja-a-a …

Was daar op Drilrivier Boesmantekeninge-plekke of dies meer, wat Oom van weet?

Ja, ek dink daar aan die oorkant van die rivier, daar is rotse, daar’s ôk tekens van Boesmans.

Is daar miskien stories wat Oom gehoor het van daai plek waar die Boesmantekeninge gewees het?

Nee, nou nie eintlik nie – daar teen die rivier op, daar by Drilrivier langs die rivier op en na Bessiesfontein (?? 10:48) se kant toe, en bokant Travellaars Res, daar op, in die rivier, daar’s mos baie kranse, wa’, wa’ daai ander eetplek nou is, daar bokant die resto- …

O ja.

Nou, daar’s mos baie klipgate daar, daar’s nog baie tekeninge van, daarom is daai plek Boesmanskloof.

Oom het netnou vertel van die gate wat Oom-goed oopgegrawe het om die water uit te kry. Hoe het Oom-hulle aan die naam “gorra” gekom of het Oom maar by Oom se pa-hulle gehoor?

Ja, ek het maar by hulle gehoor van gorra grawe in die rivier. En dan skep jy jou water daar uit. Kyk, hy syg die water uit, en dit is die lekkerste koel water. Selfs die blankes het dit gebruik in die huis en so. Tot nou later, krane ingesit is en reservoir vol water, en daai goete. Ja, en op, op, op Bessiesfontein was die skool gewees. Daar het die kinders skool gegaan, en al so voorts. Maar dit was nie vir ons gewees nie. Dis net die blankes wat daar skoolgegaan het. Maar, daa-, daai steek nie by my in lat ek vandag soos baie mense kyk nou na die apartheidjare, en daai goed, en dis nie wat ek na kyk nie, ek is tevrede soos ek grootgeword het. Dit was lekker om so groot te word het en die ou wêreld is so deurmekaar dat mens nie nog daai goeters moet kyk nie.

Ken Oom sakslag?


Kan Oom net vir ons verduidelik wat is sakslag?

Jy slag mos nou die bok, sny hom nou kop af en dan slag jy hom van sy agterkant af, want die sak is so nou na boontoe, slag jy hom af en dan brei jy hom en jy, ek meen jy sit hom eers in, da-, da-, daar’s ’n plant wat hulle sê slaai, daai vat jy, en suur jy hom amper in, jy weet soos jy nou iets insuur. Dan gaan die hare mos nou lekker af. Maak die hare af. Dan kry jy mos nou in die bome, kliphoutboom, olienhout … kliphout. Daai bas stamp hulle fyn, nè, en dan druk hulle hom daarin en dan kry jy mos die rooibokse. So het die mense hom gemaak, en die vale, en so.

En dan het hy mos nou sy dinges aan wat jy hom agter jou rug abba. Dis ’n abbasak. Ek het hom ook gedra, koringare op die plaas, dan het ek my boks agter my rug en dan nou het ons nou bietjie ge-?? (13:50) gemaak van my boksak.

Ja. Nee, kyk al daai goedjies, soos ek gesê het, met die stene gemaal, gatskuur, en die koring gemaal en my ma het die suurdeeg in-, ingesuur, dinges, soetsuurdeeg gemaak, en al daai goedjies, ja.