The Masbiekers’ Kloof has a history that dates back to the freeing of the slaves way back in 1835. Legend has it that the freed, unskilled slaves had nowhere to go and so ended up living in the Kloof thus the name Masbiekers’.
In the past, “Masbieker” was a derogatory term for someone who was unskilled and lived in the bush referring to the unskilled local slaves from Mozambique. Since then the Kloof has become a site for wood cutting, dumping and continued its legacy as a home for the displaced and homeless.
More Recent History
In 2016, South African artist Andrew Hofmeyr moved to Swellendam and found the area at the back of the old VF Park to be overgrown with black wattle trees and bluegums. But, in amongst the alien-invasive species, there was a spattering of local indigenous bush, Wild peaches, Klip els and Yellowwoods. Andrew was inspired by the potential of the area to become an artistic space where the community could walk, see art and learn more about the plants and animals of the area…
He envisioned it becoming an Environmental Sculpture Park, full of interesting objects made by artists within the community and from farther afield, a place that would bring people to Swellendam from all over the world.
After making a few enquiries the municipality suggested that he applied for curatorship of the area under the Adopt-a-spot program. In January 2017, Andrew and his partner Landia along with Monique and Kenneth Ralls from Monken’s, planted the first trees in a clearing at the very beginning of the trail, a circle of hope.
And so it was that the Masbiekers’ Valley Project came to be.