Many legends and myths exist around the origin of Baardskeerdersbos or B(ee)Bos as fondly called by the locals.
The first written mention of Baardskeerdersbos can be traced to 1660 when Jan van Riebeek sent an expedition to explore the Overberg. A team of five men reported on the valley and its Khoikhoi-residents. No doubt the little expedition would have spent the night in the open air and encountered the small spider-like creatures called “Baardscheerders” (“Beard Shavers”) known for cutting human hair for nest-making purposes.
Now a grown man, one local remembered how his mother insisted that they sleep with a hat on when they had to sleep on the ground. Local historian, Jan Fourie, bust the myth by telling about the legend of a Khoikhoi captain who swapped the farm for a razor. Apparently, men came for a shave for the evening’s Strandveld dance. They met the barber underneath a bush. The end of the story is for your own imagination. Whatever it might be, the story of Baardskeerdersbos is as colourful as its residents.
Baardskeerdersbos is situated between Gansbaai and Elim with old-world simplicity and charm. The local shop looks and smells of an old-fashioned trading store. It also serves as the post office, the bank, the tourism office and whatever other need might arise.
This intriguing hamlet with “five liquor licences, a church ….and no coffee shop!” is home to an eclectic mix of creative newcomers and more conservative older residents, many of whom are members of the original farming families of the area.
In early years it was not uncommon for the pupils of the school to be up to the age of 20. The classrooms were full, frequently with up to about 20 pupils in a classroom. Teachers had no easy task to maintain discipline. However, it was addressed in true Baardskeerdersbos style.
In his book, Wisselstrale oor die Strandveld, Jan Fourie described an incident when parents came to the school in protest against the teacher’s disciplinary policy. As soon as they all were gathered in the classroom, the teacher locked the door and put the key in his pocket. Parents were allowed to air all their complaints. At the stage where they wanted to know how the teacher dared to use a sjambok (pronounced shambuck – a thick leather whip) on their young ones he used the sham buck on all present, including the parents. The meeting ended in chaos. Only then unlocked
Parents were allowed to air all their complaints. At the stage where they wanted to know how the teacher dared to use a sjambok (pronounced shambuck – a thick leather whip) on their young ones he used the sham buck on all present, including the parents. The meeting ended in chaos. Only then he unlocked the door and gave each one a parting lash. It was the end of any disciplinary problems at the school.
The Baardskeerdersbos farm was given to the Fourie and Groenewald descendants. Families were large and many nicknames resulted.
One colorful person is Snoekies. His real name is Hendrik Groenewald, well-known for his knowledge of horses and carts. The traditional bazaar is still a popular event on the Standveld calendar. Products were often auctioned reaching high prices. In 1923, one sweet potato was sold for £5.13.6 and a sheep for £70.