The Twyfelfontein engravings have received worldwide acclaim over the years, yet little is known about where the name Twyfelfontein originates or about the origin of the ruins at the site. Here is the story.
When he first enquired about the piece of land in north-western Namibia, David Levin was told that no farmer could survive there, it was desert. David argued that although the piece of land with the trickling spring was small, the entire Namib Desert around it lay uninhabited. In 1947, the Levin family gathered their meagre possessions and made the journey north-west to their new home of bleached grass edged by huge red table-top mountains.
The battle for water began. It took careful planning to ensure that animals and humans would survive. When the neighbour visited, he would find David on his knees digging at the trickling spring. Asking after David’s health, Andries would inevitably receive the reply that he was well but that he doubted the spring would make it to October when the first rains would arrive. Andries soon referred to him as David Twyfelfontein, David ‘Doubtful Spring’. By the time David had to register a name for the land, the name had stuck.
The Levins’ days at Twyfelfontein came to an end in the 1960s. The Odendaal Commission investigated creating a homeland for the Damara people in the Kaokoveld and David and the farmers in the area were required to sell their land. Initially he objected but finally relented and moved to South Africa. Throughout the rest of his days, however, he yearned for his country, his people and his farm south of the Aba-Huab River – Twyfelfontein.
David Levin’s name is still closely connected to Twyfelfontein today, not only because he gave the area its name but also because he discovered the rock engravings and paintings. Scientists came to his farm to study the rock art as early as 1950. The Levin family never tried to profit from the ancient treasure but were always intent on protecting it.
After 1964 the area of the former Twyfelfontein farm was part of the communal land of the Damara people. In the absence of protective measures and regulations many engravings and paintings were damaged or even removed, until the entire Twyfelfontein area was finally proclaimed a nature reserve in 1986. It became a World Heritage Site in July 2007.
Visit Damara Mopane Lodge at the gateway into Damaraland (on the C 39; 20 km east of Khorixas). The lodge is ideally suited for excursions to Twyfelfontein (130km), the Petrified Forest (70km) and the Vingerklip rock stack (50km).