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Hoenderkop Photography


by Mike Rossi


Most dorps have their own signature koppie. Ficksberg has Soutkop – an erect nipple spire, shaped by the wind that rises high, piercing the sky. As we enter Fouriesburg, Hoenderkop sits like a gigantic Perlemoen, sucking on the landscape, ever watchful of Fouriesburg. Each koppie has its own history and its own relationship with the people that live there. Hoenderkop means, ‘You’ve had too much to drink’. Named after a tavern that stood at its base; it also doubled as a trading store. The inn supplied a dop or two for the traders across the border in Basotho. It also provided refreshment to Boer soldiers. To the South Sotho Hoenderkop is called Mokhlonedi meaning, ‘The face that watches over’. If you ever travel there, look carefully from South towards North and you will see a face on the West side — clearly visible in the setting sun as we arrived.


During the Boer war Fouriesburg was the temporary seat of the Orange Free State government. President Martinus Theunis Steyn resided in Fouriesburg with his wife Rachel Isabella (Tibbie) Steyn. However, it turned into a brutal battleground through the British “scorched earth” policy. Tibbie Steyn and the Boer women fled, hiding in the surrounding caves in Hoenderkop Mokhlonedi and other outcrop koppies, keeping an eye on the searching British soldiers below. Eventually they were caught and imprisoned in a British concentration camp. The ‘Vrouemonument’ or Women’s monument in Bloemfontein commemorates the suffering of some 27,000 Boer women and children who died through malnutrition and disease in British concentration camps.


Whichever way I looked at Hoenderkop, she looked beautiful. From the R26, which is the Fouriesburg/Ficksburg Road or from the R711, the Fouriesburg/Clarens Road. She stood like an imposing monolith. The skies rumbled. Bolts of lightning tore into her — cracking noises of a horseman’s whip echoed across the veld — dust swirled in the air. The wind whipped up, pursing the shadows that crossed the landscape — fallen leaves rippled along the dirt road like torn sheets of parchment paper. To and fro the young green mielies swayed, rustling in the easterly wind. Slowly the dusty air started to clear as moisture descended from the heavens, leaving a crisp sharp image for me to capture. The hot mist stayed buoyed in the air, clinging to my spectacles. Slowly, the air changed to a drizzle and then came the downpour. The earth was drenched and the willows were weeping with rain, and I was sinking into the clay quagmire — an Eastern Free State bog. With muddy legs I plodded back to the sounds of joyous laughter within me.


Every few minutes, streams of sunlight would filter through, caressing the vast fields of mielies, stretching as far as your eye could see. Thunderbolts cracked across the black Nimbus skies — she was tormenting me. Her voluptuous breasts had turned into monochrome cauliflowers — the earth lit up — dappled light everywhere. While mesmerised by this spectacular event of nature, I stood in awe, forgetting for a moment, why I was there.


When John Steinbeck talked about ‘God’s country’, he should have been standing in a mealie field, just outside Fouriesburg. Now was the time to open the Mercedes doors and let Bono sing.


In God’s country – Desert sky, Dream beneath a desert sky…’


Part of the "Shadows Over Stones" Photographic Art Collection. Available as “Custom Finish & Bespoke” Fine Art and Photo Prints, framed or unframed. Photography created as beautiful pieces of Wall Art for you to invest and enjoy, from OPENPHOTO-STUDIO.

  • Specification Unframed Print

    Unframed - Black & White Print - ref: 00038-1

    Print Paper Type: Fine Art - Cotton 215gsm

    Image Size: 60cm x 22.5cm

    Print Boarder: 4cm White

    Overall Size: 68cm x 30.5cm

    Backing: 2mm White Card

  • Specification Framed Print

    Framed - Black & White Print - ref: 00038-2

    Print Paper Type: Fine Art - Cotton 215gsm

    Print Size: 60cm x 22.5cm

    Print Boarder: None

    Card Mount: Single White 5cm

    Frame Profile: 33mm x 30mm - S2 Charcoal

    Overall Size: 75cm x 37.5cm

  • Bespoke Sizes & Specification

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  • "Shadows Over Stone" Collection

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PriceFrom £222.50
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