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Last modified: 27 Jul 2022
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KOUGA TO LAUNCH ITS OWN LABYRINTH

04 July 2022

EARLIER this month, work on an ambitious project – to build a labyrinth out of spekboom – took off with the help of Kouga Municipality and “Dorp van Drome” on the corner of Noorsekloof Road and Dogwood Road in Jeffreys Bay.

A decade-long dream coming true.

“It has been a dream of ‘Dorp van Drome’ to construct a labyrinth in Kouga and, in doing so, put Jeffreys Bay firmly on the international labyrinth map,” said Kouga Executive Mayor, Horatio Hendricks.

“And adding one more labyrinth to the existing 124 labyrinths across South Africa in municipal areas, while addressing climate change – thus the reason for using over 1 000 spekbome.”

According to Hendricks, even if it was the vision of "Dorp van Drome", they could not do it all on their own and asked the municipality to join hands to turn the dream into reality.

Discussions between the two parties began in November 2021, and research has been done to determine the best area with easy access to build the labyrinth.

Public consultation

“After the first meeting, consultation meetings with all the adjacent residents followed – to thoroughly explain the project to them, as well as to obtain their stamp of approval,” said Hendricks.

“The affected residents were supplied with information about the use and relevance of a labyrinth, as well as an opportunity to choose a name for the park.

“They were very excited and happy that the park will be put to good use and that Jeffreys Bay will secure a spot on the labyrinth map.”

Pieter Kok, a well-known landscape architect and member of “Dorp van Drome”, designed and planned the labyrinth, while artist Zuanda Badenhorst designed the four columns and builder Hannes Bekker oversaw the construction of the project.

Four elements

Based on the four natural elements that influence climate change, four coloured columns – indicating the entrance of the labyrinth – have been erected: earth (green), water (blue), air (white), and fire (red).

“In earlier years it was believed that these elements are life-sustaining forces,” said Hendricks. “To put it simply, the human body is a physical construct that exists in the material world and earth, water, air, and fire are vital aspects of the physical universe and matter.”

According to him, all these elements play a major role in our daily lives.

Behind the scenes

“When the project began to take shape, many residents and municipal employees pledged their support and began participating in the construction,” said Hendricks.

According to him, most of the work was done by members of “Dorp van Drome”, while the municipality helped with equipment and plant. Compost was further donated by Woodlands Dairy, while the Gamtoos Irrigation Board provided all the spekbome and local quarries ensured there was enough sand and stone.

Most important, only water from private boreholes – kindly provided by residents – and grey water from the municipality's wastewater treatment works were used to build the labyrinth.

“The only direct expense incurred by the municipality was to purchase cement,” said Hendricks.

“Residents will, furthermore, assist the municipality with the ongoing maintenance of the labyrinth.”

 

GOOD TO KNOW

What is a labyrinth?

What is a labyrinth?

Unlike a maze, you can’t get lost – the paths in and out are clear. It has no blind alleys or dead ends as mazes have. The path twists and turns back on itself a multitude of times before reaching the center.

Patterns range from simple to complex, and sizes of labyrinths vary. Walking a labyrinth requires you to merely follow the pattern, with no puzzle to figure out.

It is designed to encourage mindfulness and symbolize the inward journey.

Why spekboom?

Spekboom (Portulacaria afra) is an indigenous South African succulent that grows naturally in the drier regions; it’s especially prolific in the Eastern Cape around Addo Elephant National Park.

It’s adaptable to many different environments and is easy to propagate, but that’s not all . . . For the amount of water that a spekboom uses, it’s also the most efficient carbon guzzler in the world – even more efficient than a rainforest tree!

One plant can absorb 8,5 kg of CO2 in a year and can live for as long as 200 years.