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Before diving into one of !Kaggen’s many time-travelling capsules, it’s important to situate the root and reflections these stories, and this one in particular, is born from. Navigating ideas of temporality in relation to how we learn, teach and share knowledge in community, this short story lives in the
containers built, carried, woven and shared by my ancestors, as individual and collective custodians of oral history and heritage, as communities that have lived in and through a multitude of histories and hybrid heritages.

It serves as both a reminder and as a reflection of timelines beyond the colonial imagination of imposed linear rigidity, and expands our imaginations of time into a world where several pasts co-exist, several presents manifest, and several futures have already been planted, and lay open to our participation,
but are not untouched, undreamed, vacant or void. Leaning into considerations of temporality as explored by Bennet and Burke (2018), Degnen (2021), and Sabeti (2015), !Kaggen’s Monument is part of a broader conversation that acknowledges “retrieving past experience… [as] a means to reconstitute a self” (Sabeti, 2015,pg 2), and also as a means of retrieving futures that were previously subjected to disenfranchisement, and the erasure of the collective indigenous imagination and our collectively owned and shared knowledge.

By moving beyond what is considered “conventional timescapes” (Bennet and Burke, 2018,pg 2), this story explores what is imaginable beyond the accompanying conventional expectations of what is ‘real’ and to whom. This informs heritage as a cyclical living of learning and teaching from birth, to death, to the possibilities of what come after that and the thick in-between. It’s about reflecting stories where imagination and the agency to express, carry and share the root of lifelong learning and teaching, where birth makes a student and a teacher of a parent, learning how to raise a child, and discerning what to teach them, where death makes a teacher, an archive and an ancestor of an elder, learning what to pass down, and what to release, so that new teachings may take its place.

Hoerikwaggo, known to most as the iconic Table Mountain, one of the seven natural wonders of the world since 2011, hosts the incomparable fynbos floral kingdom, boasting world-class ocean views, hikes and cable car experiences. The mountain rising from the sea has been a witness to much more than what imperial tourism has curated, and has served as a sacred site of ceremony for far more years than it has served as a colonial tuckshop set up in 1652. Spatial relationality as explored by Sabeti (2015) as an important element of learning later in life, offers us an alternate spatial vocabulary, and therefore, alternative ways to ‘read’ our reality and our future, making meaning a far more expansive experience than what has been colonially curated to serve the project of extraction, servitude and anglonormative ways of knowing and being in the world (Dengen,2021).

!Kaggen’s Monument does not seek to be stranger than fiction, because it already exists as much more than the confines and structures created to anthropologize us as the subjects of civilisation, where our ways of learning, knowing and being are indeed more than myth. The Khoe and Khoisan People of
Southern Africa, of which I am a part and a whole, live within belief systems that themselves are unfixed, and “transform, or are inverted through time or across ethnic boundaries” (Barnard, 1988, pg 217), lending our imaginations to the expansive realities of intra-cultural identities, and the many selves we
believe ourselves into being, and the futures that have the capacity to hold these selves altogether. Our stories create space for us to re-member parts of imaginations past, present and future through the many characters born from Hoerikwaggo over the years, both as container of knowledge, as well as an
ongoing witness to the knowledge that is birthed and re-birthed every day.

Go to the story

References cited

Barnard, A., 1988. Structure and fluidity in Khoisan religious ideas. Journal of Religion in Africa/Religion en Afrique, 18(3), pp.216- 220

Bennett, A. and Burke, P.J. 2018. Re/conceptualising time and temporality: an exploration of time in higher education. Discourse: Studies in the Cultural Politics of Education, 39(6), pp.913-925.

Degnen, C. 2021. Back to the future: temporality, narrative and the ageing self. In Creativity and cultural improvisation (pp. 223-235). Routledge.

Sabeti, S. 2015. Creative ageing? Selfhood, temporality and the older adult learner. International Journal of Lifelong Education, 34(2), pp.211-229.



!Kaggen’s Monument

U-khai. Kuru Khai”. To lift up. To build up.


We say this when new life is born, lifting them to the heavens, an offering to the land, to the people, to lift and build this young life in the circle of our care, of our love, of our knowledge, until it is time for the darkness of the womb to give way to the darkness of the tomb.

There was a time before we knew this prayer. It was made a sacred law after the time of the great storm, where the skies were blackened with smoke for too long, and the earth gutted of almost all of her nourishment. !Kaggen, our guardian and immortal protector, grew weary, and hid a few remaining members of each clan high up in his monument, and swept across the land as a vicious storm. The boat-people carried this story in the name of Noah many moons before, resembling much of what happened under the gaze of Hoerriekwaggo in the before-time, drowning out armies of switch-board warriors controlled in towers, invented to tear down and extract everything. This was what brought the wrath of !Kaggen, as it went against our most sacred law, tearing us apart from each other, the land, our knowledge, our way and !Kaggen himself.

All of us know this prayer, this offering, as it is told to us every Springtide when it is still too cold for most of us to swim, but *Láḿ shines brightly enough to convince us otherwise. *Láḿ is the brightest star in our sky, at least in the breath that this is written. My son, this is from the after-time, this is from the time of many sons. This message is carried to you on the wings of !Kaggen and the ridges of his monument.

Remember son, !Kaggen brings messages from the before-time, and the after-time, long after the circuit board warriors were flushed from our plains, and long before the water sickness was brought by the boat-people when our elders sang songs with more clicks than Christ.

After flooding our plains, he had come back as a flying serpent, setting his monument ablaze so that our elders could harvest the new seeds, awakened by the fire, to make a tonic that would cleanse the water and return the fish to it by the next season. !Kaggen, although full of tricks and wicked humour, has remained with us since the beginning of the before-time. He is our compass, our guardian, the teacher of teachers, the student of time. It was said that he humbled the strongest man from a distant clan who had tried to cause trouble at his Monument, breaking boulders and etching his own face into Hoerikwaggo in order to proclaim his power and vigour. After patiently observing the man for three days as a praying mantis sitting in the fynbos, !Kaggen transformed into a bee, and as the man struck out into the monument to carve out his likeness, he was stung, and let out a wail so thundering, the South-Easter wind changed direction, carrying the scream across the mountains and beyond the wetlands.

!Kaggen reminded us that even the strongest, tallest man, is still a man, and will succumb and bow to the sting of a humble bee. Every time we hear the South-Easter blow over the plains, the elders laugh under their breath, and tell us this story, always adding their own twist to spice up the tale for those who have heard it retold since their first Winter. The lesson remains, even though the story moulds itself to the teller’s tongue.

I always wondered why !Kaggen didn’t transform into a boomslang, or a lion or even a mountain leopard, waiting to strike out at the man’s arrogance, as he had struck out the circuit board warriors with his rage in the before-time. I asked him this on the night of my own initiation, sitting in the dream-plain as a youngling on the evening of my transition into adulthood, as you sit now, waiting to know more about why a god with so much power would choose such a small creature to impart wisdom, and why I would choose to offer you this as archive, as dream, as part of the after-time of our people.


The capacity of peace is different to the capacity of harmlessness. I am peaceful, but I am capable of violence. I am not harmless, and all the clans have witnessed this. I am now, and I am forever. That means that everything that is harmed now, harms me in the after-time. Everything grown, expanded, imagined now, grows, expands and is reimagined with me in the after-time. It does not serve me or the land to harm or hurt without room for learning, because that is how I learn. Time is my teacher, weaving lessons across timelines that I have to retrieve, share and shift. That is my duty as custodian of stories, that is what makes Hoerikwaggo not only a monument, but a chalice of knowledge to lift up, not in the service of one, but in service and reverence of all. To build up. Remember, that is our way. Every era, I see how we grow and our ways evolve, but even then, it is my duty remind the walkers of this land of who I am, as the student of time, and who they are.

As a lion, I would strike the fear of *Láḿ into the man and all of his people forever, making them hunt the lions that roam our land out of fear and revenge for summers to come, as I have seen in the before-time, with no care or consideration for the sacred beast, but as a bee, I could remind him that all creatures have strength to humble even the strongest fighter, even though my time as a bee would be brief in my undertaking. The rest of the hive remained, and I was successful in reminding him that his true strength lies in honouring his echo in everything, and not making everything in his image. This is what it means to honour ourselves, and everything that sustains us. As the humble bee, I could lift him up from his ignorance and arrogance, and I could also build him up to his purpose as a leader without placing the hive at risk of destruction. He was one of the greatest leaders of his clan, protecting the western side of my monument until his last days, before handing this task down to his sons. The proteas on the western side grow lush and fragrant for his descendants to enjoy, full of bees that provide them with food and medicine, and the boulders of my monument rest without disturbance. Do you understand now, young one?”


Initially, I didn’t. Do you?

I still think a lion would have made for a better story, but !Kaggen was more interested in his duty than our entertainment. I leave this wisdom to you, as my father left his to me, and my grandfather to him.

As you know, !Kaggen visits us in the dream-plain when we are young children, until the last night before we are initiated into clan leaders after enduring 17 winters. We then serve the clan and the land with the guidance of the young chorus of dreamers who reflect the wisdom of the past through their honest and open hearts, and the sacred cyphers of the elders who are visited by !Kaggen in the hidden caves of his monument, who tell us about the after-time. The in-between time is there for us to practice listening with humility to those whose imaginations are untainted, and those who have seen many moons and have the wisdom to imagine and share the after-time with great discernment. It is left to you now, to weave this into the present through your listening, guided by past and future teachers, while you guide our people from the centre of the eternal circle. Once you have seen more than 77 summers, like me, you will return to !Kaggen’s Monument to join the sacred cypher, and will be shown the secret pathways within Hoeriekwaggo, where we are once again reconnected to the ancient oracle and each other, as friends, as peers, as fellow students of time, retracing the steps of our ancestors who sought refuge and encouragement in these caverns.

I have left you this piece of wisdom in the Monument, for you to retrieve on the day of your initiation at the first portal, as your guide in the in-between, and as a spear that will carry you into the after-time long after I have returned to the soil.

Once you reach the northern Shrine within the monument, make sure the fire is lit and the sacred prayers are sung and danced. This is how !Kaggen is called in, as your feet trace the ancient glyphs into the sand around the fire and a dense dust cloud engulfs the room, settling the fire and shrouding the immortal portal. Find the edge of the fire, my son, and find the sacred pipe. Share this among the elders who have brought you in. It is already filled with sacred mphepho, grown and lit to clear the air of any stagnant spirits and timelines, and as the dust and smoke settles, invite the newness of the after-time !Kaggen brings to you, to discuss and discern.

The cave will go silent for a few breaths, broken by the deep booming from the heart of Hoeriekwaggo.

That is when you will know that !Kaggen has arrived.

Remember our way, my son.

!Kaggen will call to you a simple truth: U-khai. Kuru-khai.