The first time I visited Groot Marico I was about 13 years old and I remember my dad being very excited about this 'character' by the name of Herman Charles Bosman. It turned out we weren't going for a visit though, in fact Bosman had died in 1951. Bosman was a great South African writer whose most famous work came from the town of Groot Marico. Here he developed a fictional character called Oom Schalk Lourens, who would tell funny stories of the interesting life in this quiet, farming town.
I had never read or heard any Herman Charles Bosman, an injustice my dad couldn't allow, so he recounted a few of Bosman's stories. The one that sticks in my mind is about the singing of psalm 119.
We arrived in the town of Groot Marico, a two hour drive from Joburg, and the town was small (to say the least), but it seemed to have a unique charm about it. The gardens of the houses are slightly overgrown, a few abandoned cars lie on the side of the road, and old tannies walk in pairs as they get their bread from the local superette. It is a funny town and is interestingly one of the only towns in South Africa that still uses a manual telephone exchange, 'nommer asseblief'.
The town has a quiet to it that is great. As Bosman once said "There is no other place I know that is so heavy with atmosphere, so strangely and darkly impregnated with that stuff of life that bears the authentic stamp of South Africa."
|There is no other place I know that is so heavy with atmosphere, so strangely and darkly impregnated with that stuff of life that bears the authentic stamp of South Africa|
We went to the Groot Marico Information Centre where we met Egbert van Bart who runs the centre. He had many interesting stories to tell about Bosman and the town, and we joined him for a 'knertsie mampoer' which put a few hairs on my chest. The Information Centre offers a variety of tours including a battlefields tour, traditional village tour, and a mampoer tour. Call 083 272 2958 to arrange.
October sees the hosting of the annual Herman Charles Bosman Weekend, a weekend celebrating his work and life. The weekend features workshops, lectures, readings of Bosman's work by some of South Africa's top actors, and lots of food and mampoer. The weekend is held from 14-16 October to commemorate the passing of Bosman.
Head out to Groot Marico to enjoy some of dusty and rural South Africa. The entertaining Herman Charles Bosman Weekend is a great reason to visit this quirky farming town, so why not make a weekend of it.