The farmers in the Eastern Cape’s Karoo are given to thousand-yard stares. Moments where they recall the good years, before the current drought. Not easy years in themselves, as is the norm in the Karoo. Or they wonder when the drought will break (sometimes whether it will break at all). And when it does, will it be with a flood, as often happens. Or, how they are going to cope when coming this far has taken such a heavy toll, especially on those who have given up or in a few tragic cases, taken their own lives. All this in what’s only a small part of the Karoo.
I undertook an extended road trip to Cape Town, for a wedding, via Graaff-Reinet. I wanted to see what was happening with the drought in the area because stories on it cropped up every so often in the media and it has been going on for between six and eight years, depending on who I spoke to. I had no plan other than a contact number for Gift of the Givers co-ordinator, Corene Conradie, and a few commercial farmers, notably in the Aberdeen/Willowmore area.
Is it as bad as reported? In a…