The wild history of the Koup and the Nuweveld

The Koup region of the Karoo takes its name from the Khoi word “ghoup,” which means “caul fat.” This is the stringy, lacy fat found around organs such as the stomach of sheep or game. It is widely used throughout the Karoo for wrapping pieces of liver, sometimes with interesting fillings, for roasting on a fire. Experts say the Khoi gave this geographic region its unusual name because the brown earth, surrounded by little patches of golden yellow grass reminded them of this fat. In the earliest days, farmers struggled across this very arid part of the Karoo in search of water and grazing, which they found at last in the vicinity of the mountains near Beaufort West. This led them to name these mountains the Nuweveldberge, (literally New Veld). They were previously known as the Bosjemansberge, because they were a stronghold of the bushmen (San). The mountains also offered succour to many vagabonds, evil-doers and law-breakers, giving this area a colourful and exciting history. At one stage, the area around the Nuweveld was one of the most blood-stained in South Africa. Today, the Koup plays a vital role in the economy of the Great Karoo. Known for its ability to survive the severest droughts, this region produces some of the best mutton in the Karoo, as well as fruit, olives and now garlic.


© Rose’s Roundup, vol. 2, no. 49, October 2007.

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