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Golf, Birding and a National Suicide

Updated on October 28, 2017
Black-winged Lapwing
Black-winged Lapwing | Source
Forked-taited Drongo
Forked-taited Drongo | Source
Black-collared Barbet
Black-collared Barbet | Source
Indian Ocean - Eastern Cape. Aloes in fore ground provide food in wnter for Sunbirds
Indian Ocean - Eastern Cape. Aloes in fore ground provide food in wnter for Sunbirds | Source
Dark-capped Bulbul
Dark-capped Bulbul | Source
Impala on Golf Course
Impala on Golf Course | Source
Golf course with a view
Golf course with a view | Source
Wild Dagga, another winter food source for birds
Wild Dagga, another winter food source for birds | Source

West Bank Golf Club in East London, South Africa, has some of the most spectacular sea views imaginable. Sitting in the lounge or in front of the clubhouse, as we were today, you are likely to see a pod of dolphins or a couple of whales in the deep blue water of the Indian Ocean. Today, as we sipped our coffee, Neville, Kobus and I saw none of these. We did see a Cape Gannet, though, diving for food just behind the breaking waves along the rocky coastline. We had earlier stopped to admire four beautifully marked Bontebok and a large group of Impala. One of us had nearly managed to hit one of the Impala, after over clubbing on the 13th.

The birds were also out on this lovely autumn morning and I ticked off on the list in my mind, three kinds of Plover (Crowned, Black winged and Blacksmith), a Black-collared Barbet, an Amethyst Sunbird, a Dusky Flycatcher,a Forked -tailed Drongo, a Red-eyed Dove, a Stone Chat and a Dark-capped Bulbul. The Sunbird was feeding on the Wild Dagga bushes that flower at this time of the year. At the same time I made a mental note to return with my binoculars, camera and bird field guide to check up on some of the birds flitting around in the coastal bush and “fynbos” that line the fairways. Fynbos is a type of brush that is found in the S/E coastal areas of the country, and is the habitat of some of our endemic bird species such as the Cape and Gurney’s Sugarbirds.

As we sat admiring the view after our round of golf, we could see the rocky outcrop called Cove Rock to the south west. That brings me to the sad story of the “Suicide of the Xhosa Nation”. In 1856 a young Xhosa maiden named Nongquase claimed to have seen a vision while fetching water for her family at the nearby river. She proclaimed that on the 18th of February 1857 a huge storm would arrive and the fore fathers of the Xhosa nation would rise out of the sea and together with the wind, drive the white people and all Xhosas who had disobeyed the spirits of their fore fathers, into the sea. Despite efforts from the Cape Government Administrators and missionaries to counter this delusion, the people by and large believed her. This led to the people killing their cattle, destroying their crops and building huge “kraals” for the cattle that would accompany the warriors coming from the sea. The place where the fore fathers and cattle would come out of the sea was to be at Cove Rock, which had specific spiritual meaning to the Xhosa Nation.

Sadly as the day arrived, nothing happened. It is estimated that more than 60 000 Xhosas died in the ensuing seasons in spite of large amount of food aid that came from the authorities and missionaries in this area. This marked the end of the military power of the Xhosa nation. The book by Mostert, called “Frontiers,” gives a very interesting history of this part of the African Continent, including the tragic story of Nongquase, who mislead a nation.

Reference: Frontiers by Noel Mostert- described as: The Epic of South Africa's creation and the Tragedy of the Xhosa People.


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    • Frank Atanacio profile image

      Frank Atanacio 

      6 years ago from Shelton

      man Johan this was an awesome hub.. should have been hub of the day

    • Johan Smulders profile imageAUTHOR

      Johan Smulders 

      6 years ago from East London, South Africa

      Thanks for the feedback

    • aviannovice profile image

      Deb Hirt 

      6 years ago from Stillwater, OK

      Voted awesome and up. That's the ticket! I like hearing about your birds and a little folklore.

    • Gill Harris profile image

      Gill Harris 

      6 years ago from South Africa

      Didn't realise cove Rock was involved in the Xhosa story. Very interesting. Was needing to ID the pair of black-winged lapwings that I spotted Sunday. No need anymore!

    • Johan Smulders profile imageAUTHOR

      Johan Smulders 

      6 years ago from East London, South Africa

      Thanks for the comment. Iowa is a great state, love the flyfishing.

    • WillStarr profile image


      6 years ago from Phoenix, Arizona

      One of God's greatests gifts is the bird kingdom. I grew up in Iowa, and my grandmother taught me to care for both the winter and summer birds, and appreciate them all. I still do, but I'm not the expert you are.

      Excellent Hub!


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