Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Klara Majola

As soon as a person drives over the crest of the Gydo pass, just outside Ceres, there is an unobtrusive turnoff to the left with the sign, Agter-Witzenberg. It is a narrow road that leads through the mountains and opens up inside a completely new valley filled with vinyards and fruit-trees.

Klara Majola lived in this remote farm community with her father who was blind and the rest of the family.

On the 31'st of July 1950, the Cape newspaper Die Burger ran the following news item which I loosely translate here.

Frozen in the Veld
Went searching for her blind father

Ceres. -- An 8 year old black girl froze to death one night in the last week after she went looking for her blind father and got lost. She is Klara Majola. She lived on Mr. Ernst van Dyk's far, Die Eike, in Agter-Witzenberg.
Klara made it a habit to lead her blind dad around the farm and to take him to places where he could gather wood. Later she would then go fetch him.
Her mother went to a nearby farm during the day. She came back at dusk and wanted to go fetch her husband, but Klara offered to do it.
It appears that she could not find her father and got lost. The workers and other occupants of the farm went to look for her. Her father answered their call, but Klara could not be found. Shortly after finding her father, it started to Rain.
Mr. Van Dyk only heard about the events the next day. He immediately gathered a search party. Klara was found dead in a road.
It appears that she slipped over some rocks in a stream and fell into the water. She was to cold and frozen to get up. Her one arm was under her body and the other hand was in her mouth.
It was particularly cold that night and a thick layer of snow had fallen.
This story has been taken up in various ways in Afrikaans literature.

D.J. Opperman was so affected by the story that he wrote a poem about it in Engel uit die klip, Tafelberg, 1951.

Klara Majola

Klara Majola wou haar vader
toe die skemer sak, gaan haal
waar hy, die blinde, hout vergader;
maar Klara Majola het verdwaal.

Klein Klara Majola lê verkluim
in die Bokkeveld se bros kapok,
haar arms en bene bruin
en kromgetrek soos wingerdstok.

Klara Majola, die koue geweld
sif stadiger oor my uit die ruim.
maar nooit sal ek in die Bokkeveld
so warm, Klara Majola, soos jy verkluim.

D.J. Opperman

The story was also transformed into a story by Boerneef in a compilation, Teen die Helling. The title of this story was "Klara Mentoor".

Anyway. The point is that I had the privilege of driving into that very same valley with my Gomoto over the week-end. At that stage I did not know the significant link that it had to the literature that I grew up with. But still, I am happy to have been there.


Hamzeh Majiet said...

Thanks for The Klara Majola poem!! I lost it and thanks to you I found it!!Thanks a lot, you really helped me out...


nikita said...

Baie dankie vir die gedig! en die koerant-artikel!

Anonymous said...

Tnx to you guys