The town of Kenhardt owes its existence to the conflict between San, Korana, Baastards and white settlers.
A scouting party from the Cape Colony reported in 1834 that the area west of the confluence of the Vaal and Orange Rivers is dry, with no water – an inhospitable, sandy region. It was only 13 years later that the region up to the Orange River was incorporated into the Cape colony.
As a result of the efforts of Louis Anthing, magistrate of Namaqualand, Mr M Jackson was sent to Bushmanland, as the region is known, as magistrate to keep law and order between the different race groups. He made his headquarters under a big camel thorn tree at what was even then known as Kenhardt. This tree – estimated to be between 500 and 600 years old – is still standing and has been declared a national monument in 1978.
The day he put up camp – 27 December 1868, is regarded as the founding day of the town.
Most interesting are the remnants of the “Flat Bushman” lifestyle on the farm Arbeidsvreugd some 60km outside Kenhardt. The history of this San colony was told by //Kabbo, also known as Oud Jantjie Tooren. //Kabbo was imprisoned at the Breakwater Prison in Cape Town in 1870 where his story was documented by Dr Wilhelm Bleek and his sister in-law, Lucy Lloyd. Rock art on this farm is also well worth the drive.
Life in Kenhardt has always revolved around efforts to secure enough water for residential as well as agricultural usage.The construction of the Rooiberg Dam was started in 1898. The dam wall broke in 1900 and was left in disrepair until 1933. Work on the repair of the dam wall was a welcome alternative source of income for farmers who lost their farms due to a severe drought.
The extreme summer heat in Kenhardt creates its own problems. In 1965 the Dutch Reformed Church of Kenhardt built a morgue with cold storage. It was duly handed over to the municipality who continued to manage and maintain the facility.
Kenhardt is currently known as the capital of Dorper farming – the Dorper being a crossbreed well adapted to the farming conditions of the area and bred for its meat.
Since 2000 Kenhardt became part of the Kai !Garib Municipality with its administrative centre in Kakamas.
Kai !Garib Municipality Tel: (054) 651-6500
Green Kalahari Tourism
Tel: (054) 337-2826