- Northern Cape
The 'eye' is one of the natural wonders of Southern Africa and also the source of the Kuruman River. At the foot of a range of low hills a spring of crystal-clear water gushes out from the dolomite, 20 million litres each day, with little variance between wet and dry seasons. The presence of so powerful, pure and dependable a supply of water in an otherwise arid area made human settlement inevitable.
In 1801 a mission was established here but after 8 years the missionary, Johan Kok, was murdered. Then in 1824, Robert Moffat, of the London Missionary Society, arrived and established what became probably the most famous mission station in Africa.
The source of the Kuruman River was often described as the fountain of Christianity in Africa and this station was a jumping-off ground for many ventures into the interior by people such as David Livingstone.
The original mission buildings still stand, surrounded by irrigated fields and shaded by magnificient trees, including giant syringa trees, pear trees, figs, pomegranates and almond trees. The trunk of the almond tree under which David Livingstone proposed to Mary Moffat still stands in an overgrown garden.
It is a lovely and gentle place, full of memories. The mission church is still in use and the scene of many gatherings, especially at New Year when church members have a reunion, with many ceremonies and services. The Tlapin tribe of Tswana people hold this mission in great reverence.
The modern town of Kuruman is a neat little place, the centre for a great cattle and dairy area, with a vast creamery. About a quarter of the butter of South Africa comes from this district.
The town draws drinking water from the source of the Kuruman River and the surroundings of the 'eye' have been developed as a park. At the spring there is a pool inhabited by countless thousands of fish. A handful of bread crumbs or mince meat thrown into the pool creates such an upheaval of fish that the water seems to boil.
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