Lekker in the Lowveld

This rock formation overlooking Blyde River Canyon is known as The Three Rondavels due to it's resemblance to three African Huts or Rondavels. Picture: Tim Ellis
Chris Harvie
Chris Harvie

We Lowvelders know we live in the best part of South Africa. There is a ring about being a Lowvelder – so much more meaningful than being a Gautenger or a Capie

Hospitable people, Lowvelders can easily identify the origins of other South Africans, which allows us to gently point out our assets at the expense of those strange icons of which buitelanders are so proud. That comical little mountain in Cape Town, for example. Capetonians talk funny. They say “marntin”.

But our “marntins” are bigger than theirs and mountains should have views over scenery like the dam at the Three Rondavels, not of polluted air hovering over the Cape Flats with an occasional tantalising glimpse of the relatively unimposing Hottentots-Hollands.

And we know what a shark looks like, even if the sea-sozzled southerner can’t tell a rhino from a warthog. Who needs lighthouses?

We don’t have freezing cold mists rolling over us. Horrendous gale-force winds don’t hurtle across our landscapes. Our hills are green and they are home to copious flora and fauna, not rough and rocky with the odd ostrich and the fearful circling of raptors in search of sustenance.

The oldest families of Kwa-Zulu Nataaaaal have nothing over us either. We have a Drakensberg too; we keep horses (but we do not dragoon them into playing polo); we don’t have cane rats and our dogs have books written about them; we too have bush, berg and beach, but spreading over three countries. We can leave the mountains in the morning, take a game drive, and still be in Maputo, eating prawns on the beach by lunchtime. (When did you last have a fresh mussel in Durban? Durban mussels come from New Zealand).

Those poor Freestaters and Northwesters squint in the highveld glare, staring out into nothingness from their sad Swiss-style chalets on the banks of the Hartbeespoort Puddle and over the achingly dull miles of mielies and sun-dazzled heliotropes. Our scenery is unspoilt by power stations and our thunderstorms are the best in the land.

Oh yes, and sorry, Slummie, or Blown-away Friendly Person, with your bouffant hair and your caravans but those are not game reserves – our back gardens are bigger than that (and contain more wildlife). Lowvelders know that a game reserve must be bigger than Wales or it doesn’t count. Our elephants are bigger and stronger (and less aggressive); our river gorges are just as gorgeous as yours (and ours have waterfalls). Your Garden Route is reasonably attractive, but where are all the gardens?

Gautengers, in their spotless, neatly ironed khakis and shiny BMW X5s, tell us they have not been to the Lowveld since veldskool. Why not? It’s because we are so tantalisingly close.

Paradise, three hours down the N4, is a constant reminder that there is more to life than a GANGSTA1 GP number plate and Gilooly’s Interchange. They ride on our tails in their big, shiny cars and overtake us on blind rises.

Who needs dunes and dusty deserts? Who needs malls and movies? Who needs waterfronts and whales? We recognise and love people from other parts of our country. We welcome them because we Lowvelders have it all. We know that. They know that. It’s great isn’t it?