The jolly duck-run at Vergenoegd Löw Wine Estate

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Vergenoegd Wine Estate. Painting by Colleen. Oil on board, 135 x 84 cm. Artist’s collection.
Vergenoegd’s homestead gable showing the date 1713 with a spelling variation.

Vergenoegd – a Dutch word meaning contented, pleased, satisfied. And exactly this is the feeling you get when you visit the farm market on a Saturday morning with the thrill of the duck run thrown in at 10h30 am. The Indian runner ducks, gently goaded by a number of farm hands adding an air of excitement to the slow awakening of the market activities.

However – since the new president of the ANC, succeeding the former abjectly corrupt President of the Republic of South Africa, declared in his State of the Nation Address a new shift in land reform policy – a possible shadow has fallen over farms like these. When the Dutch established a victualing station at the Cape in the 17th century to stock their ships sailing to and from the East with fresh provisions, they hadn’t intended to colonise the Cape’s hinterland. Increased traffic around the Cape however led to encounters with local herders and commercial contacts eventually leading to the development of farming enterprises deeper into the interior. Vergenoegd is one such example. The new President, Cyril Ramaphosa, has stated that food security will not be compromised – with obvious reference to the catastrophic events in Zimbabwe which lead to the massive impoverishment of all its people. While the new ANC leadership has wrested the issue of land reform away from the provocatively aggressive and apparent fascist EFF propaganda machine, it nevertheless remains a topic of great concern for many farm owners of whom the majority are of European descent. In other words it has become an issue of white against black ownership of land. Not that the land was originally owned by anyone. What is relevant is that the white people have cultivated the land with help of indigenous and slave labour and are holding it as their possession. This is supposed to be changed radically. No-one at this stage knows what it entails, but many are worried.

Gently goaded into the farm yard.
Indian runner ducks. Instead of waddling, they are running, kicking up a dust.
Grazing to the public’s content.
Indian runners were introduced on the farm as pest control. On Saturday mornings they run for the love of it (we think) – they appear to be rather proud of their controlled performance as runners or, shall we say, soldiers of the snail trail.
Homeward, runners!

The duck run is a lovely feature of the farm abounding with entertainment value which you can look up on their website. We came here to experience the duck run since we love ducks and had a number of Dutch quackers in our garden. They are such jolly creatures, though a little messy as well.

Dutch quackers. Painting by Colleen. 1996. Oil on board. 1996.50 x 40 cm.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We rounded our duck run visit off with a walk through the morning market buying some succulents on our way out, the present drought situation forcing us to re-design our garden to become water-wise. No space now for ducks to paddle in the ponds.

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Are places like these stolen from the people?
Should cultivation and development of land be viewed and judged as an act of malfeasance?
The voices of fascism are shouting: the time of reconciliation has passed, now is the time of justice.
What kind of justice?
The German playwright and poet Bertolt Brecht (1898-1956) would have said: the land belongs to those who will work it.
Are the white-washed walls of a farmstead still standing out as symbols of oppression, exploitation and outright results of criminal acts?
Political fodder thrown to the masses by demagogues masquerading as omniscient and divine arbiters of earthly justice?
Let’s leave it there for a while and instead savour the last moments of a lovely summer morning at the Vergenoegd Löw Wine Estate.

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With love as always from
Colleen & Walter

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Stellenbosch, 13th March 2018

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