Wednesday, March 2, 2011
*No, this is NOT about Eddie Izzard in a horror film*
Table Mountain, South Africa -- somewhere in 2010
In my hellish time in Cape Town I often yearned for the outdoors and all there was in the form of outdoors where you were (mostly) left alone, was the famous (and overrated) Table Mountain.
One time I recalled my kids and I walking on one of the "highways", as we called it --- pathways that were more like driving roads where the Rangers could drive their cars. It was a particularly quiet time late on a week day, so we were alone as far as earshot and visuals were concerned.
Even in broad daylight, the twisting road that coiled and disappeared over raised parts of the terrain lay in sinister silence. For once the sun had taken a time-out, thank goodness and it beautified the colors of the foliage and the rocks. Through the vast rows of trees we could hear the call of birds every now and then, but it gave us the overall effect that those calls came from another dimension instead of the same forest we stood in.
It had a melancholy loneliness to it and as we came around one of those sunken bends all three of us saw someone in a bright red head cloth/ turban round some trees, disappearing behind them in a nano-second! We all went :" Did you see that??"
And then my sadistic knowledge prompted me to recall and share with my children, the tale of the demon transvestite that lives in our folklore and I added: " That kids,......*scary face*......was Antjie Somers! OMG, let's just go. Let's just speed up!"
And among the kids' questions about my revelation and their alarmed rushing down the mountainside -- to my twisted delight --- I did in fact pass a few glances over my shoulder in secret, because I know the tales all too well. Did we in fact see ANTJIE SOMERS?
It is one of South Africa's most famous ghost stories, but because the origin of the thing has such an insanely varied spectrum of locations and stories, I will just give you an overview of what he is supposedly.
What we all agree on is that Antjie Somers is a supernatural cross-dresser who used to terrorize travelers and children alike. The old people of all races and cultures used to warn their children to be good or Antjie Somers would GET YOU!
This sprang from the legend that he was a ghoulish vagrant who could go invisible at will, who delighted in catching and eating children that would not listen to their parents and ultimately stray into the woods....kinda like a Little Red Riding Hood deal.
It is said that it was a man who dressed up as an old lady with a head scarf and a dress, with a basket hooked over his arm and if you crossed his path he would kill you and stuff you in his basket.
Two origins that I know of is that he used to be a Torturer/ Executioner for the Dutch colonials and when the British banned executions in the 1800's, the old boy had no livelyhood and ended up on his own noose! Now he walks on the slopes of Table Mountain looking for victims to feed his lustful greed for blood.
Another tale tells of Andries Somers, a fisherman who killed a man in self-defence, but had to dress like an old lady to avoid being captured and he carried with him his belongings bundled on a stick. When he finally found a new home in a small town, he became the object of mockery because of his women's clothing, being renamed "Antjie" Somers and he apparently eventually packed up and walked off, leaving no footprints, never to be seen again.....unless you find yourself on a deserted road at night in the Paarl or Table Mountain. [[[Insert ghoulish laughter here]]]
Somers also apparently comes from the fact that he only appears when it's Summer (See? Only demons like the South African summer!), but who knows who he REALLY is. The tales vary from historical, to spooky, to downright demonic in nature and there are just way too many versions of Antjie Somers.
One thing is clear though, he sure is a prominent spook, well-known for his diabolical powers and that should be enough to avoid deserted roads and hikes at night in the Western Cape, doncha think???