Flags across South Africa will fly at half mast today in honour of Khoisan leader Oom Dawid Kruiper.

The state funeral is to take place at Witdraai in the Northern Cape, on the land he fought so hard for. Here he will be buried alongside his wife, among the dunes of the Kalahari.

The organisers of the funeral are expecting at least 2 000 mourners to attend.

They will come from SA and neighbouring countries. Even on the classified website Gumtree, a message was posted by someone looking for a lift from Cape Town to Witdraai.

From just outside Upington the signs appear: “Mr Dawid Kruiper begrafnis 195 kilometers” (Kruiper funeral 195km).

A couple of youngsters hold up a poster bearing Kruiper’s face, desperate for a lift.

At Andriesvale, on the 195km mark on the R360, Marie Moss is peeling potatoes. She and the other women expect to be busy all night.

Sheep are being slaughtered, wood chopped and the guests are dribbling in.

Those who knew Oom Dawie believe he would have been amused by the pomp and ceremony.

He is remembered as a man who lived his life with “his tongue firmly in his cheek”, never taking himself seriously. He preferred wearing his traditional skins.

But the reason Kruiper is being honoured with all that pomp and ceremony is for his efforts in negotiating a land claim for his people. Under his guidance and leadership the Khomani San reclaimed large tracts of land.

For his efforts Kruiper became a celebrity, walking into the UN in his skins and hobnobbing with world leaders. He even had a role in a movie.

The 76-year-old leader died in Upington on June 13. The delay in his funeral is so that clans could gather to attend and honour him.

Weekend Argus