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Marico Matters: Blue Square in the Marico

"Greenies: People who are concerned about environmental issues. Many of them feel guilty about washing as drainage pollutes the streams. And it shows. Others are trendy greenies who churn up country tracks in Range Rovers running over the wombats and possums, making sure the kangaroos are safe"

Great Aussie quote from ' An Accidental History of Words' - Eric Smith

From Linksfield Ridge, the backdrop to Johannesburg's first powered flight in 1910 (Chapter 1) to Reconciliation Road, which links the Voortrekker Monument to Freedom Park in Pretoria (final chapter) and all the bits inbetween Luke Alfred's chronicles of his walking exploration in SA is fascinating and fun.

Of course Chapter 10 - 'Blue Square in the Marico' holds special interest for those of us living here. Luke Alfred's wanderings included the Marico Eye, source of the Marico River - 'a merry natural pump', the canal alongside the river, family graveyards, old oxwagons - which took two days to transport tobacco from Kuilfontein across the hills to Groot Marico, and the waterfall at Tara Rokpa Centre which was founded by the Tibetan Buddhist humanitarian Akong Rinpoche.

The 'Blue Square' refers to "the blue square of potential prospecting you frequently come to see on both the environmentalists and the De Beers maps" and describes "the standoff in the area between local environmentalists and traditional leaders on the one hand and multinational mining housing like De Beers on the other."

The traditional leaders the author refers to are the Kgosis or chiefs of the downstream communities whose residents number around 100 000 are dependent on the water from the Groot Marico River for survival. Since 2010 the community has opposed one prospecting and mining right application after another within the Groot Marico River catchment in order to protect this vital and valuable source of fresh water to South Africa. It is interesting to note the impact this must have made on the author since he chose this as the title for his chapter on Groot Marico.

The book is published by Tafelberg.

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