Donkey taxis have given rural villagers a lifeline

Andrew Molefe

Andrew Molefe

Ansa Linde, a charming, ageing Jewish woman who runs an equally charming bed-and-breakfast called Shalom on the outskirts of Kuruman, has an interesting take on her one-horse town.

She quipped to Sowetan: "To keep His children warm, God chose Kuruman as His furnace station from whence He lit coal to fire the rest of the African continent."

That explains the scorching sun blazing in that part of the Northern Cape, where everyone seems to own an umbrella, and the trees are permanently stunted. The living is hard.

"In His eternal wisdom," Linde continues, "He gave us something tough, something precious, something that kept us from perishing."

That something is "The Eye", which is the southern hemisphere's largest natural fountain spewing forth 20million litres of water a day.

The Eye has given Kuruman a redeeming nickname, "The Green Desert".

The abundance of water could arguably sustain the entire Kalahari region, of which Kuruman is but a part.

But in their "wisdom", the architects of grand apartheid wanted this natural asset for the exclusive use of white residents.

So, the black people were carted off to arid places as far away as possible from this fountain of life.

Which brings us to the rural village of Moshaweng, a scorched hellhole about 70km from the fountain. It is the kind of village where the living might actually envy the dead.

That unemployment is terribly high is a cruel reality.

There are hardly any jobs or even an economy to talk about.