ID #1809

Laurens Jan van der Post Memorial Garden, Philippolis, Karoo, Southern Free State.

Born in Philippolis, South Africa, December 13 1906, the thirteenth of fifteen children. The Prince of Wales considered him a mentor and appointed him godfather of his son, Prince William.  Jung knew him as a personal friend.  The Bushman (Bushman)  named him “The White Bushman”.

Both in peace and in war he led an extraordinary and eventful life and one of great significance for our time.  He served with distinction in the British army during the Second World War and spent three years in a Japanese prison camp. After the war, he returned to active service as a member of Lord Mountbatten’s staff in Indonesia.  After 1949, he took part in many official expeditions and missions to Africa in search of the Bushmen.  As a young boy, his grandfather told him of them hunting the Bushmen.  This moved him to promise repentance and to “give something back” to them. In 1947, he was appointed a CBE (Commander of the British Empire) for services in the field, and in 1981, he was awarded a knighthood.  He spent most of the final years of his life in England and died on December 16 1996 at the age of ninety. He wrote and published 25 books during his life.

His relatives believed that no place on earth was better suited as his final resting-place than Philippolis.  During February 1998, in contemplating a memorial service, the idea of a limited competition for a Memorial Garden arose. Throughout his life he regarded life as a journey and saw “…man, on his journey from cradle to the grave,” In designing the Memorial Garden it was important to capture and symbolise this belief.  It also had to pay tribute to his philosophy of “Meaning transfigures all…” in a concrete, tangible manner. The garden was inaugurated on April 4 1998.

On entering Philippolis via the road from Trompsburg, one encounters the site between between the former township, Poding-Tse-Rolo and Phillippolis. It is adjacent to the beautiful NGK church that dominates the town and where he was baptised as a child. Ask the proprietor of the café across the street to show you the church – she is justifiably proud of it. Colesberg is at the intersection of the N1 with the N9.

Philippolis is on the R717 north of Colesberg, which is at the intersection of the N1 with the N9. BDLaurens.


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Last update: 2014-03-22 20:39
Author: Alan McIver
Revision: 1.3

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