In 1830 two Rhenish missionaries from Germany established a remote mission station in the heart of the rugged Cederberg on the banks of the Tra-Tra river. One of these missionaries was Johan Gottlieb Leipoldt – the grandfather of famous south afri
can poet Louis Leipoldt. The mission station was named Wuppertal after the Wupper River in Germany and initially ministered mainly to the local hottentot community. In 1834 when slavery was abolished in South Africa the freed slaves had a choice between serving a four year “apprenticeship” with their previous owners, or of being affiliated with a mission station. It is no surprise that many freed slaves chose the latter option and the number of inhabitants in the remote mission oasis of Wuppertal swelled.
Over time the mission station established satellite stations in the area. One of these was Heuningvlei, which literally translates as “Honey-wetland” but the translation doesn’t have the same lilt as the Afrikaans version. In my last post I described my walk on the historical road to Heuningvlei, however nothing prepares one for arrival in this forgotten village.
The village still only consists of about 25 households and aside from the telephone poles and satellite TV dishes it seems to have missed the passing of time. One reason for the slow growth in this idyllic valley is that although, as the crow flies, it is very close to the town of Clanwilliam the drive there is over a distance of almost 70 kilometres on dirt roads. So this beautiful village remains contentedly trapped in the 19th Century.
Below is a photograph taken from the main “street” in “downtown” at rush hour. Surely there cannot be many more beautifully situated villages in the world.