Okiep, Namaqualand

The mining settlement of Okiep is situated in the Northern Cape part of the Namaqualand and, while small and secluded, was once the pivotal point of the richest copper mining region on earth. It was established in 1862 and is part of the Nama Khoi Municipality in Namakwa.

Okiep, originally called O’okiep (meaning large brackish area), has a total area of 38.6 square kilometres and a local population of about 6 500 people. The vast majority of its residents are Afrikaans speaking.

Because of its rich supply of copper, Okiep was the site of a number of political upheavals, and saw many folk being killed in wars over its wealth. From the days of Simon van der Stel in the 17th century, right through to the Anglo-Boer War of the early 20th century, this region has been subjected to, and many times succumbed, human greed and material pursuits.

Today, it is such a tiny village that it does not often feature on the maps of tourist hotspots. However, thanks to the rich historical value of this settlement, it is well worth stopping over and enjoying a peek into the South Africa of generations past.

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