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corjan3 03-03-2014 01:31 PM

To SnapRJW: Ochre
Hello Rosemary,

Ochre occurs 40Km to the west from here. I have now discovered that this probably is Mthoba which is the root of a plant that they dry and grind to a fine powder. While they are still in the field school over the Christmas-New Year period, their faces are made white for which they use kaolin, a white clay that occurs around Grahamstown, 70 Km from here, and possibly the only place where kaolin has not formed directly from the weathering of granite but from the Dwyka diamictite which is a glacial deposit derived from a granitic area very far from there. They also use a commercially available product, calamine, as a whitening but I do not know what it is made of.

Best wishes.


corjan3 03-07-2014 07:19 PM

Hello Rosemary,

Just to say that I saw him again today and this time he was very neatly dressed in jacket and tie. And without the "cosmetic". He confirmed that it is Mthoba and that it is commercially available with a chain store. So much for real tradition - like the computer and the abacus :) Or whatever appropriate analogy.


I wonder if the little country hotel at Aris still exists.

SnapRJW 03-08-2014 06:16 AM

Calamine Lotion
Hello Neels - Thanks for your response to my question. Old traditions hang by a thread and I guess that's progress (?) It's a bit like the cave painters grinding pigments and today's artists buying ready made acrylic paints :)

I had forgotten all about Calamine lotion, it was one of my mum's staple cure-alls, applied to stings, itchy bites and nettle rashes. Made from a zinc carbonate compound I understand.

Sadly, the little hotel in Aris is no more. The building exists but it has not functioned as a hotel for many years. We stayed there when we came through to Windhoek from Uis to do our shopping... very comfortable and with excellent food.

When we moved to Windhoek it was one of our favorite places for a meal and it has a wonderful warmth about it. The bar was cosy and many a good evening was spent with a glass of wine and a lovely rack of springbok with red cabbage and Spätzle! Yum

Have a good weekend


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