Above Photo: Goddess of fire, Evening Prayer
Circa 1959: Place yourself, if you will, as a young boy age 5 living on a remote “farm.” There is no electricity, no phone, no running water, none of the conveniences of today. Your nearest neighbor is nearly twenty miles away. Your school is thirty miles away and there is an additional family living there. Your siblings are your companions. Family gatherings are on Saturdays around a battery powered blue and white radio listening to occasional rugby games. Days are full. Chores, schooling, more chores, and scattered among the hours and days and months are memorable character forming events.
Schoenbrunn sits on twenty two thousand five hundred acres, near the western edge of the famed Kalahari, it is a place of contrasts. High desert country, arid, vast and as lonely a world as can be imagined. Where the sky meets the horizon is a more than a days travel by horse. Your family is self sufficient. They ranch sheep and goats, later in your life, ostrich and some cattle. For nearly the last two decades, wildlife flourishes here.
Nic Kruger Sr. was raised in this harsh landscape, with little water except for man made sources provided from bore holes, pumped by windmills and now solar powered pumps. Home to springbok of three colors, eland, kudu, black and blue wildebeest, hartebeest, waterbuck, Hartmann’s zebra, black faced and regular impala, gemsbok, steinbok, duiker, and few predators except the plentiful jackal and caracal.
From these humble beginnings Nic Kruger Sr. has achieved a notable life list of accomplishments; Managing Director of NMH, a newspaper publishing consortium, fifteen years as the Miss Namibia/Miss Universe pageant organizer, Minister of Parliament, and a host of other titles. The father of two son’s , Corne and Nic, he is the patriarch of the Kruger clan, and now grandfather of four; baby Nic the III, and grand daughters Chane, Kayla and Jane Kruger.
We are privileged to reside for five days in a little flat that once was a sheep shearing shed, later an ostrich incubator and hatchery, and currently a spacious two bed, two bath flat. We are one hundred meters from the original house, now a cozy lodge. Fronted by a large and beautiful lawn that is the site of the nightly gathering for the braai and evening fire. The night sky here is a palette of black with millions of stars contained only by the horizons. The southern cross hangs above us, marking the southern hemisphere.
Dinner here is a blend of traditional Namibian wild protein (Gemsbok, kudu, springbok) a starch (potato, rice, pasta), salad, vegetables, fresh bread or rolls, and a dessert. Menus change daily and reflect the harvest of both animals and vegetables from the onsite garden, supplemented from the Windhoek markets for variety.
The evenings fire lends an ambiance to the after dinner hour, and a recap of the days events, difficult to replicate anywhere else in the world. The surrounding stillness is unbroken except by the fire crackling in quiet lapses of conversation, night sounds of distant guinea fowl disturbed by some unseen menace, the soft yips of a lonely jackal, and the tinkling of ice in a near empty glass raised in a toast.
Tonights half moon sets on the western horizon and the night sky darkens further to brighten all the stars in their God given splendor. We enjoy the fires solitude, an age old african tradition that binds us to all mankind throughout the ages… We see visions in the flames of memories long past, and dreams of things to come…