Suurbraak (Zuurbraak) is a little village with a few thousand residents that lies in the cosy folds of the Langeberg mountains, alongside the Buffeljags River.
Don’t. Stop! Take the 10km drive off the main drag into the town.
Better still make it your next destination. Especially on Saturday the 22nd of October 2016 when they will be celebrating the Vreugdefees, the Festival of Joy.
Admire the scenery, talk to the people, listen to their stories, buy their crafts, jams, vegetables and furniture, walk on one of the beautiful hiking trails and soak in the wonder of this Overberg village. You will then truly understand why it is also known as Xairu, ‘paradise’.
In Suurbraak people ‘shop’ from their own gardens, keep one or two farm animals in their yards, cook on wood fired stoves and ‘kuier’ a lot. They live a simple, country life and their town and heritage is very important to them.
Originally a settlement on the ancient trade route of the Attequa people where the KhoiKhoi met to trade with the Dutch East India Company. The leader of the Assequa tribe invited the London Missionary Society to ‘serve’ his people and a mission station was established in 1812.
What is particularly interesting about Suurbraak is that after being taken over by the London Mission Society, then the Algemeende Sending Kerk and then the Anglican church; it was finally deeded into the ownership of the community.
Everyone in the community is a stakeholder and a Council of Stakeholders (or CoS) is elected annually which represents and protects the interests and rights of the people of Suurbraak.
Recently the CoS has been working with Swellendam Tourism to implement the STEEP project (Swellendam Tourism Economic Empowerment) in the community. The STEEP project’s aim is to catalyse economic growth and jobs as well as transformation and change.
A ‘sleepy’ country hamlet like Suurbraak, where life is much as it was over a hundred years ago, is a perfect canvas for transformation and development being done responsibly and sustainably. And Suurbraak is doing just that.
The community consists of families that have lived there for generations (many of Khoi descent), farm labourers that tend the surrounding farmlands, artists who have found inspiration by the jaw-dropping beauty and the serenity of the place, and city-dwellers seeking to live in a simpler more sustainable and healthy way. They have all the ingredients necessary for success and are making it work.
Suurbraak is a perfect example of what a little bit of support, cooperation and skills development can do for a small rural community that faces daily battles of things like minimal access to infrastructure and little opportunity for employment. You can read more about how this project has breathed new life and purpose into this beautiful village and its people here.
We hope that many other small communities will look to Suurbraak for inspiration to realise their transformational and developmental potential.
Suurbraak you are the Overberg’s shining star!