The Eerste Water Walk pilgrimage takes place along the Eerste River in September, Heritage Month, and is on the calendar of the eBosch Heritage Festival since September 2018.
“Eerste” means first in Afrikaans. This pilgrimage is inclusive and welcomes the involvement of many communities and individuals linked to the Eerste River and its tributaries, in the Stellenbosch region.
The walk will take place over two days, Friday September 27 and Saturday September 28, culminating in the Festival of Talents in the centre of the historic town of Stellenbosch, at Die Braak.
The origin of this pilgrimage for water was envisioned at least three years ago by members of the Eerste River Crystalline Water Tribe.
It supports the vision of water protectors that include the first peoples of many lands, the international California-based Walking Water initiative of which the South African patron, Geoff Dalglish, had been part of, and dynamic local groups like the Stellenbosch River Collaborative, the Eerste River Crystalline Water Tribe, Wildlands, the Stellenbosch Trail Fund and the e’Bosch Heritage Project.
It was agreed to follow the example of Walking-Water (walking-water.org) pilgrimage for a source-to-sea walk that is both an action and a prayer.
It recognises that water is life, and connects humans, animals, plants and all life – and this pilgrimage is intended to be a celebration, an exploration and an opportunity to listen in humility to the waters and the many voices of the watershed and ask: How might we serve? What is ours to do?
The Eerste Water Walk is regarded as a local acupuncture point to help support an awakening and heightened awareness in the larger water body of our world, believing in the power of story, prayer and action to inspire change, contribute to the healing needed, and to restore old relations and create new ones.
The intention of the walk is to practise deep listening, to suspend judgements and to harvest stories of the ancient and modern history of the region, and those profoundly connected to the Eerste River.
It is a chance to observe the contrasts of pristine headwaters and polluted waters downstream, as well as the impacts of agriculture, farming, industry and residential communities, both wealthy and disadvantaged.
The walk will follow in the footsteps of our ancestors and at their time-honoured pace, walking waterways that were well known to the first people of the land as well as the colonists and slaves who followed later.
All participants are welcome to join along the route, as follows:
Friday, at 1pm: meet at the Jonkershoek Nature Reserve, walk to the source of the Eerste River at the second waterfall in Jonkershoek, collect crystalline water, return to the gate – approximate time, two to three hours.
Saturday, at 7.30am: meet at the parking area at Lanzerac Hotel, Karindal, to arrange car sharing to headwaters, walk along routes close to the river to Stellenbosch. Approximate time: 8am to noon.
Contact person: Charl Pienaar at firstname.lastname@example.org
Saturday, at noon: meet at Bosch-en-Dal Road at the “Hangbrug”, just south of Lanzerac Hotel towards the Eerste River, for a learning journey along the river, illustrating river rehabilitation projects. Approximate time: noon to 2.30pm.
Contact person: Lydia van Rooyen at email@example.com
Saturday, at 3pm: proceed to the Heritage Festival of Talents at Die Braak, Central Stellenbosch, where a labyrinth ceremony honouring the waters will be conducted.
Contact peron: Terry de Vries at firstname.lastname@example.org
See link on our website for the articles “Walking for Water”, (Bolander, October 3, 2018) and “Footloose and fancy-free”, Bolander, October 23, 2018).