Finger of God

The imposing ‘Finger of God’ remains a landmark in the memory of most Namibians, even though it tumbled to the ground more than twenty years ago . . . The 450-ton, 12-metre-high sandstone rock feature was difficult to ignore.

It rose above the arid landscape of Asab in southern Namibia, balanced precariously on a narrow shale pedestal only 1.5 metres wide, looking as if it was defying gravity.

Mukorob

Mukorob

It didn’t escape the notice of two young climbers, who threw caution to the wind in 1973 to stand on the ‘fingertip of God’.

1971.08.26 - Dedo de Deus

1971.08.26 – Dedo de Deus

While studying in South Africa, the two Namibians from Windhoek joined the University of Cape Town’s Mountain Club. They had been introduced to mountain climbing as boy scouts. Rodney Lichtman was only 19 years old at the time and Patrick Evans 17, yet they were bursting with energy and zeal for life, and hungry for adventure.

Rodney Lichtman_19 yrs old

Rodney Lichtman_19 yrs old

Rodney describes the sentiment of the time: “In those days competition in climbing involved opening new routes up a mountain or climbing the unclimbed.

The Finger of God was like an enticing finger beckoning to us.” The pair had no desire for glory or accolades. This was just between themselves and the rock.

They set off early one summer’s day to begin their ascent. The rest of the world disappeared as they turned their focus on the rock and the climb ahead of them, conscious of the fragility of the ancient rock structure.

MUKOROB _R. Lichtman greyscale

MUKOROB _R. Lichtman greyscale

They honed-in on the smell and feel of the rock, the cracks and the foot- and hand-holds, concentrating on every decision, which needed to be precise. Their lives depended on it; there was no place for error.

Each took their turn as lead climber on the rock face. When one of them tired, they switched positions, letting the other tie in and take over the lead.

By late afternoon they had made it to the top to take deep gulps of air and appreciate a view of the gods.

Rights to namibia-accommodation.com

Rights to namibia-accommodation.com

Tired, hot and weary, they climbed down carefully, stowed their ropes and made their way to the Asab Hotel to celebrate and quench their thirst. They told their tale to an incredulous barman.

Namibia street map

Namibia street map

They also decided to recount the story of their dramatic feat to Huisgenoot magazine, who bought the story – and their mind-boggling photographs – paying the students enough to cover the cost of their holiday.

Rights to travelnewsnamibia.com

Rights to travelnewsnamibia.com

On their way back to Cape Town, they made a stop in Asab to drop off a copy of the printed article for the barman.

The Finger of God is also known as Mukorob, derived from its Nama name ‘Mûgorob’ meaning ‘someone saw’. Whether its unusual name stemmed from the Nama legend inspired by the rock pinnacle is anyone’s guess.

Auf pad in SWA book

Auf pad in SWA book

The legend, of which there are several variations, tells the story of how the Nama, who live in the arid southern reaches of Namibia, were visited by a large group of Herero from further north.

Mukorob map

Mukorob map

The Herero, always at loggerheads with the Nama, boasted how rich they were with their herds of fat cattle. “And what do you have?” they mocked. “Nothing but rocks!” The Nama quickly replied that they indeed had a very special rock and that they would be the lords of the country as long as it stood.

Mukurob

Mukorob

Annoyed, the Herero tied thongs together, wound the long rope around the rock and hitched it to their cattle, trying to topple it.

But, as hard as they tried, they were unable to budge the rock. “Mû kho ro!” the Nama
shouted – “There you see!”

Mukorob stamp

Mukorob stamp

Although it was declared a national monument in 1955, Mukorob’s history began many years earlier at the end of the Gondwana ice age, 280 million years ago. As the glaciers began to melt, they formed lakes and swamps in which glacial debris and clay-sand sedimentation collected.

These deposits solidified over thousands of years when the lakes dried up forming the grey shale below and the more weather-resistant sandstone of the Weissrand Escarpment above.

Screen Shot 2017-04-07 at 8.31.38 AM

With the breaking up of Gondwana 120 million years ago into the southern hemisphere continents as we know them today, the continental edges were raised and slightly tilted to the east. The erosive power of the Fish River intensified in subsequent humid conditions, cutting a steep riverbank.

This was followed by widespread erosion causing the edge of the Weissrand to move further east over a period of millions of years. Impressive rock islands like Mukorob remained, towering into the sky as the escarpment eroded around them.

Mukorob , Finger of God

Mukorob , Finger of God taken in 1970 – Rights to Flickr

An awe-inspiring balancing act, the rock pinnacle towered over the land over the aeons, gradually weathered by the wind and rain at the slow pace of eternity.

Eventually, in December 1988, the last stones of the pedestal gave way and it tumbled down to the ground. There were no witnesses, only the vast landscape and deep blue sky.

Mukorob 1988 - Rights to mapio.net

Mukorob 1988 – Rights to mapio.net

Since then, several stories surfaced, including one that the supremacy of the white man would end when this geological structure fell, and one from the extreme right that God was showing his disapproval.

The legends were, in all probability, embroidered as the country neared its independence in 1990.

Mukorob today

Mukorob today

Geologists have determined that rather than giving any apocalyptic signs, Mukorob merely collapsed under its own weight after millions of years of erosion, a shudder from the Earth and a final rainstorm.

If there is any information you would like to add regarding The Finger of God, please share it in the comment section below.

Author – Ron Swilling

 

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Have you found the Namibian Organ Pipes yet?

No, I have not completely lost my mind. And no, there are not actual organ pipes hidden somewhere in the Namibian country side…well, not exactly.

If you ever find yourself in the Brandberg-Twyfelfontein area, do not miss out on this natural phenomenon.

Rights to Pinterest

“Namibian Organ Pipes” Rights to Pinterest

Tucked away inside a valley, visitors will find a unique sight… a collection of Dolerite Dykes that look like a massive organ’s pipes pushing up towards the clear, blue sky.

Rights to Namibia

Rights to Namibia

How did they develop?  Once again, the origins are linked to the ancient super continent of Gondwana. As the continent was beginning to break apart, molten rock pushed to the surface. And led to the formation of these strange and wonderful columns.

Rights to Jim Zuckerman Photography

Rights to Jim Zuckerman Photography

Due to the years of weather exposure, these columns have a warm rusty colour to them and are any photographer’s dream.

Rights to Pinterest

Rights to Pinterest

A similar dolerite display can be found at Giant’s Causeway in Northern Ireland, but rumour has it the Namibian site is in a much better and more appealing condition.

"Giant’s Causeway in Northern Ireland" Rights to http://surrealplaces.net

“Giant’s Causeway in Northern Ireland” Rights to http://surrealplaces.net

Rights to http://wild-wings-safaris.com

“Namibian Organ Pipes” Rights to http://wild-wings-safaris.com

How can you get there? Drive towards Brandberg from Khorixas, but keep your eyes peeled! The entrance to the Organ Pipes is not well marked.

Just before you reach the mountain, on the left-hand side you will see a stone with ‘OrrelPype’ written onto it, that means Organ Pipes in Afrikaans. Turn in there and follow the ‘yellow brick road’ to the magical organ pipe valley.

“Organ pipes” located on the Namibian map

A great place to use as a base while exploring the majestic Organ Pipes, is the Damara Mopane Lodge just outside of Khorixas. We suggest visiting the valley in the mornings to get the best lighting for photographs.

Damara Mopane Lodge

Damara Mopane Lodge

Remember there are always do’s and don’ts at these kinds of natural sights…

  • Do not litter
  • Do not remove anything from the valley
  • Do not damage anything in the park
  • Do respect nature
  • Do take lots of pictures
  • Do have fun
  • Do enjoy the scenery

When you visit, try to listen to the massive organ as the wind dances along the pipes.

If you have visited the Organ Pipes before or have information regarding this site, we invite you to share it in the comment section below.

Author – Jescey Visagie is a proud Namibian and is passionate about writing and language. Tag along for the ride as she tries to uncover new insights into Namibia and explores what the country has to offer.

Jescey Visagie

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What does Gondwana mean?

The Gondwana Collection is celebrating its 21st birthday this year. To the public we are known as a lodge group that strives for service excellence and to conduct business in a way that is environmentally conscious. One of our major aims as a company is to preserve the natural heritage of Namibia.

The basic history, summed up quite bluntly, is that four like-minded people came together in 1996 to create a place where wildlife could roam freely and safely along the Fish River Canyon. They intended to have this project funded by a temporary tented camp on the property. This humble idea grew rapidly and the Gondwana Collection grew into fourteen properties across the country.

Gondwana Collection Namibia

Some may recall that we once had a different name, the Gondwana Travel Centre, which was changed to the Gondwana Collection. I’m sure you’ve noticed though that the one idea that remains at its centre, is ‘Gondwana’.

The word itself has prehistoric origins. Scientists believe that there was once a super continent, in which all continents of earth were connected as one. This massive continent was named Pangaea. Its name is derived from the Ancient Greek words pan (meaning “whole / entire”) and Gaia (meaning “Mother Earth” and also the name of the ancient Greek goddess of earth).

Rights to John Pangaea

Rights to John Pangaea

This super continent was divided into a northern and southern hemisphere. The northern half was named Laurentia or Laurasia and the southern half was named Gondwana.

Rights to ZME Science

Rights to ZME Science

The name of this southern super continent has unique origins. The continent was named by Austrian scientist, Eduard Suess, after a region in central northern India. This region is named the ‘forest of the Gonds’, after a tribe that lives in the area.

The Gonds are a people who live in central India. The reason the continent was named after this group, is because India had been part of the Gondwana super continent.

Rights to Indianbijou

Rights to Indianbijou

It is because of this rich background that the four founders of our company decided to use this name. However the meaning of Gondwana was brought in once again, when the lodge group received its new logo. To explain the logo, one needs to understand the origins of the company’s name. The new logo consists of the hand. A very simple but also loaded image.

The hand can symbolise history and heritage through the lines embedded in the skin. It can also be a welcoming idea, an introduction through a handshake. And of course it symbolises unity and the ‘coming together’ of people and communities. These are some of the reasons why we chose the hand as our identity. And if you look closely, there is so much more.

"You can see Africa & South America"

“You can see Africa & South America”

When you consider the logo above, you can see Africa. You can also see South America, as it was once connected to the African continent. And if you look carefully you will see Namibia, forming part of all the continents afore mentioned.

"Look carefully you will see Namibia"

“Look carefully you will see Namibia”

We here at the Gondwana Collection see the world as interconnected. One thing cannot exist without the support of another. This ideology is also grounded in our philosophy. We believe that we can only be successful if we bring the tourism sector, environmentally conscious methods and the local communities together. And so far this has not let us down.

If you have any information regarding Gondwana or experiences with the Gondwana Collection, we invite you to share it with us in the comment section below.

Author – Jescey Visagie is a proud Namibian and is passionate about writing and language. Tag along for the ride as she tries to uncover new insights into Namibia and explores what the country has to offer.

Jescey Visagie

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