The River Mile and other musings at Boesmansriviermond

One of my early childhood memories is of Boesmansriviermond or “Bushmans”. Endless beaching and swimming in the estuary. We feasted on guavas. 1c for little ones. 2c for big. My grandfather remarked on a crackly telephone-line to my father, “But that’s not the Albany district!”. True. It was the Alexandria district (at the time). If memory serves, a bridge connecting Boesmansriviermond (Alexandria) and Kenton-on-Sea (Albany) was only completed in 1959. Hence the Afrikaans character of Bushmans and English feel to Kenton. Today it’s all part of the Ndlambe municipality within the Sarah Baartman District of the Eastern Cape. Ndlambe (died, aged +90 in 1828) was a much admired, tough but principally peaceful chief who purchased the Zuurveld from the Boers in about 1800 for 800 oxen. The Zuurveld in those times extended from the Sundays River to The Great Fish.

Well, moving on to modern-day history and yesterday in particular. We motored down from Grahamstown to watch (and photograph) the St Andrew’s College / DSG / St Andrews Prep River Mile on the Bushmans River. Half a mile for little ones. A mile for big. Starting near the bridge, finishing just up from the mouth. A large pod of swimmers and spectators enjoyed fine weather and a fabulous day. South African flags fluttering proudly over Zupta-free water. For some, hard work and / or fiercely competitive. For others a gentle day out. Wonderful to see brothers and sisters (and even some parents) both little and big swimming together, or at least in the same event. Part of the magical bond between these extraordinary schools.

Then onto The Sandbar for a quiet and delicious lunch. An iconic venue up-river accessible by car or boat. Boat is best but Vanessa’s car doesn’t float. Memories of water-skiing, fishing, and booze-cruising on the river with family and friends. A mystical setting. The Bushmans carved deeply into a valley of dense Euphorbia bush meandering for miles (navigable for 22kms) as tidal estuary. Thick with game. A proper day at The Sandbar includes both incoming and outgoing tides. We ventured from a respectable one-bottle-of wine lunch back to the beach and a leisurely walk to Kwaaihoek. Black Oystercatchers heralding our way. Had we strolled a little further we would have come upon Diaz Cross, a landing site of Bartholomew Diaz in 1488. Find me a finer stretch of beach and I’ll show you heaven.

Just another glorious day in the historic and beautiful Eastern Cape.


Before moving back to Grahamstown in Oct 2017, Graeme was a bank executive based in the big smoke and craziness of Joburg. He has 20 years’ experience in the Payments Industry. He is a Chartered Accountant, has a Masters in Management by Research (MMR) from Wits Business School, and attended an Advanced Management Programme (AMP) offered by INSEAD (The Business School for the World!) in France.  

Graeme is the founder of The Grahamstown Project. It’s simple. He says, “Grahamstown is a microcosm of South Africa. If we can’t get this place to function properly then the whole country is stuffed. Many of the troubles we experience as a country today have their roots here in Grahamstown. it is here where black and white people first engaged in conflict on the African continent. It is here where 9 wars of dispossession over 100 years took place and virtually destroyed the amaXhosa nation. But we are where we are. I don’t have a British passport and the boat-trip back to where my ancestors came from is exorbitantly expensive. Furthermore, this is my home. I am a son of Africa. We must work together to redress the injustices of the past and move as one into a brighter future.”

Graeme is an avid historian, writer, vlogger and public speaker. Like and follow the Facebook page. Join him on a tour. Contact him. He would love that.