Technologies of Passage

Fieldnotes 25 September 2023

After the flood, the Klein River broke its banks.

The sky is bruised with clouds, threatening more rain.

The bridge argued with the storm,         and lost.

It collapsed and two people were swept away.

The direct route to Genadendal is closed. We take a circuitous course, doubling back and doubling the distance.

The violent flood has destroyed roads and houses;
        trees and telephone lines                 lie felled.

Power is out;

    cellphone signal intermittent.

I text Sibu:

The Dutch called the river running through these mountains Rivier Zonder Endt; the river without end.

Stinkwood and yellowwood from these forests was once used by the Dutch V.O.C to build wagons to traverse roads; cross bridges. The Old Genadendal Bridge (Beinbrecht Bridge), built in 1819, was the first formally constructed bridge over a major river at the Cape.

It is said that the community came together to build it after too many swollen-river-winters.

The superintendent at that time, Hans Peter Hallbeck reported: “The building of a bridge, particularly as a private undertaking and an undertaking by the Genadendal inhabitants, is such an unheard-of-thing in this Colony, that it is talked of with astonishment from Cape Town to Grahams Town…” (source: Genadendal Mission Museum)

Boundaries drown.

Wires are dead.

Animals must be moved to higher ground.