The Name - Jakkalsfontein

It has been said that “The name Jakkalsfontein does not conjure up the right image. It is more appropriate for a game farm in the Eastern Transvaal. One does not visualise a coastal estate with white beaches, sand, blue sea and Cape fynbos. Your first and most important impression is the name.”

To many, however, the sound of the name, with its string of vowels rising and falling from low to high, is pure music. It sings of the wild, of free roaming animals and of fountains where flowers and grass grow.

Property developers like to attach names to innocent, unspoiled landscape that, to their minds, “conjure up” white beaches, blue skies, etc. Club Mykonos springs to mind. To the discriminating however, such a name merely sounds outlandish, artificial and meaningless. The attempted illusion or conjuring trick is so obvious that the reader/hearer feels insulted. Who needs cheap illusions when you have the real thing?

The name Jakkalsfontein was not created to satisfy popular demand. An old, plain, descriptive name it dates from the 1690’s when farms along the West Coast road were first given names. To date, the earliest source is a report from 1804, when Jakkalsfontein was set aside by the government for the breeding of wool bearing sheep. (In those days, Cape sheep were hairy).

Long before that Jakkalsfontein was one of the stops or signposts on the old post road between Cape Town and Saldanha Bay. It took a soldier three days to slog the weary distance through his region, known as the Slagtersveld (Butchers’ Field), a region where elephants, lions, leopards and wild dogs roamed, to deliver a single letter or bring news of a ship arrived in St. Helena Bay in a desolate state. Slog it, they did, and back again, from fountain to fountain.

The name Jakkalsfontein existed centuries before game farming was dreamed of in this country, a century and a half before the Eastern Transvaal existed as a province or as a name, or before Europeans inhabited that region. Unfortunately, we not know what the Khoina, the aboriginal herdsmen who grazed their cattle here for about 17 centuries, called the place, if indeed they had a name for it.

Nantucket Island, some twenty miles offshore from New York is the “summer place” of cultured and wealthy New England Americans. There are stretches of that fourteen-mile long sea-beaten coastline that strongly resemble Jakkalsfontein – except, over there, there is no Table Mountain in the distance. Nantucket’s name is of Red Indian origin. There were 1000 Algonquin still living on the island when the Quaker settlers arrived in 1642. Would today’s homeowners dream of changing Nantucket’s name now because it does not “conjure up the right image”, or plainly put, because it does not reflect their pretensions?

Our name is rich, rare as its fresh air, sea views and peace, and quiet. In a drab and fading world called this-or-that Ridge, this-or-that View, and those heights, of acres of dead concrete and tar, the name Jakkalsfontein speaks of remoteness, silence, and unbroken skylines.

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ARTICLES By Dr. Dan Sleigh

PREHISTORIC JAKKALSFONTEIN
THE NAME - JAKKALSFONTEIN
192 YEARS AGO
EARLY VICTORIAN
A JAKKALSFONTEIN MAN
LOOKING EAST

TOUGH, TOUGHER, HONEY BADGER…

2009/07/01

By Steyn Marais Reserve Manager

One of Jakkalsfontein’s more secretive residents is the honey badger (Mellivora capensis), also known by the Afrikaans name, ratel. The only glimpse that...

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Latest Update

2011/02/03


Photo: Joc Wagner

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