Namaqualand’s forgotten daisy Ouma Grietjie
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Namaqualand’s wild spring flowers that are in bloom this time of the year are reminiscent of another perennial Namaqua daisy, the late Ta Grietjie Adams from Garies.
Famous for her signature folk tune Lekker ou Jan, hip-swinging Nama dance steps and unifying spirit as a community leader and national builder, Ouma Grietjie became the “grandmother of everyone in Garies” in the words of local dominee, the Reverend Sammy Muller at her funeral in 2014.
Ouma Grietjie was born on a farm near Garies on May 10, 1927, and was a domestic worker her whole life. She later moved to an old-age home in Springbok and died in 2014 at the age of 87 years. She was buried in her hometown, Garies where she became a household name because of her singing and performances all over the country and on TV.
She shot to stardom when she recorded her first music album in 2004 at age 77. She was also acknowledged for her nation-building efforts through singing. In 2006, she received a Vukani Music Award and that same year, a Reconciliation Award from the Institute for Justice and Reconciliation.
Others in the small Namaqualand town who also sung the praises of the deceased Afrikaans folk singer agree.
“Grietjie from Garies, as she is known, was an icon here in Garies where she was born and lived until she died at the age of 87 in 2014. Through her singing and dancing she literally placed Garies on the map for tourism. Everybody knew her as Grietjie from Garies and tourists still to this day come here and ask about her,” Sophia Niewoudt, a long-standing friend, said.
“On the day of her funeral April 26, 2014, there were people from all over South Africa here – ministers in the government and those who play a significant role in the tourism industry. They promised to help the people of Garies to keep Grietjie’s legacy and at least look after her grave for the tourists,” Niewoudt said.
Hannes Adams, Ouma Grietjie’s son confirmed that nothing has come of the promises made at his mother’s funeral.
“They said they will help us with food and money. And also to fix my mother’s house, but they did nothing of that. They also did not put up a tombstone on her grave,” Adams said.
In remembrance of Ouma Grietjie and her legacy, Niewoudt promised to put a plan in action in place to turn Grietjie’s grave into a memorial for tourists to visit.
“If our municipality and those in the tourism business can’t help us to make up Grietjie’s grave – because people asked about her grave, I promise to lobby for support to put up a tombstone or something for the tourists to go and look at. We can even have a picture of her in her pink kappie on the tombstone. People will then immediately know whose grave it is in that is in that graveyard,” Niewoudt said.