Lekkersing, Namaqualand

The Richtersveld in the Northern Cape is home to only a few villages. One of them lies 60 km east of Port Nolloth, and 100 km north of Springbok. Its name is Lekkersing (sing sweetly).

Its a quiet little village with under 650 residents, where an average day is easily whiled away on the front stoep as temperatures soar into the early 40s.

There are two stories about how the town got its name, Lekkersing, or !Xaing !Xnai in the Nama language. The first involves Ryk Jasper Cloete who visited the village and, upon hearing the people of the village sing, was enraptured and called the place Lekkersing. The other story involves the town's natural spring that makes noises like the sound of singing.

The 1990s saw a revival of the Nama culture in South Africa and in little villages like Lekkersing the Nama traditions, their food, their language, their dancing and singing, are strong. It is a special way of life that makes a visit here so out of the ordinary.

Part of this revival took the form of a successful application for UNESCO World Heritage status by the little towns of Khuboes, Sanddrif, Lekkersing and Eksteenfontein to protect the natural biodiversity of the natural environment of the Richtersveld.

The local community are entirely responsible for the Richtersveld World Heritage Site. Besides the herding of goats, tourism is a major form of income for the Nama people, many of whom see former traditions, like the Matjieshuis (a reed hut now used for wedding and special occasions, rather than as dwellings) slowly disappear.

The people of Lekkersing sew Voortrekker bonnets (slightly fuller than the Nama bonnet), provide donkey cart tours through the village and into the Richtersveld (just north of the town), and cook traditional food for visitors (lamb, goats meat, vegetables and traditional 'roosterbrood').

The donkey carts are part of the fabric of life in Lekkersing, and the other villages of the Richtersveld. They are used to collect water, and to carry wood and animals for slaughter. Nomadic farmers continue to use the Richtersveld in the traditional way, moving their animals (sometimes up to 50 km at a time) from place to place

The Nama are happy to see visitors. They will demonstrate how to put the matjieshut together in the shape of an igloo. This quick-to-put-up-and-take-down-again temporary dwelling was not only used by the Nama people. White Afrikaners used them instead of tents when they holidayed at the coast.

Above the village is a diamond quartzite mine from which the people export patterned slate, some of which look like fossilised flowers (magnesium crystals), all over the world.

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