book reviewBy Tony Jackman
The wire art formed by young, poor hands in places like Michausdal and Lingelihle is the link between the visitor and the local economy in small Karoo towns like Cradock. And when you move to such a town – and to a new province – you’re extraordinarily lucky if you find there the two people who know small-town South Africa best, the journalists and road trippers, Chris Marais and Julienne du Toit.
In their book Road Tripper, Chris Marais and Julienne du Toit write of the legend of Oom Das. “While you’re choosing your favourite windmills to take home, ask them about the late Oom Das Mowers. They will tell you Oom Das had the strongest teeth in town. He used them as pliers to bend the wire while he fashioned his exquisite windmills.”
Windmills like the ones in our back yard and decorating our increasingly eclectic Karoo braai spot, which Chris has dubbed our Karoo Cantina, although we’ve adapted that to Cantina Peculiar. The wiry repertoire of these road-side artists has grown to include barques mounted inside bicycle wheels, angels, gemsbokke, outsize lizards and vases of rusty roses. Even our garden gate is garnished with roses…