Kommetjie, Western Cape, South Africa

Lighthouse in Kommetjie.
by Zola Miller

Once upon a time there was a small, tranquil seaside village called Kommetjie, with stone houses dating back to 1900. Kommetjie means "Little Bowl" - a name derived from the numerous natural inlets in the rocks, and subsequently developed to form a very distinctive tidal pool.

Until Word War II, this undeveloped little place was not well known. 1939 saw the installation of first electricity and shortly afterwards piped water.There were no proper roads, and no facilities for sports, recreation or entertainment. During the war large numbers of troops passed through Cape Town, and refugees, particularly from Malaysia and Indonesia, poured into the town.

They hoped to find safe passage back home, but they had to wait for many months in a place where accommodation was in very short supply. Holiday homes, spare rooms, outhouses and small hotels, like the one in Kommetjie (which is now a rehabilitation centre) were sourced, and eventually the army and the navy commandeered all these various places for accommodation.

In this way, many foreigners moved into the little village of Kommetjie. As Capetonians took these refugees under their wing, they came to visit Kommetjie, and eventually came to appreciate the tranquil beauty of the little fishing spot. The main throughway still wanders through the small, select shopping area, with a new hotel boasting a beer garden and restaurant.

Locals tend to meet and chat at the little postal shop, which serves as post office, curio shop, and information centre. Some of the most stunning photographs of the area are on display here, and Francois is the man in charge. As the road leaves the village, it climbs steeply up  "Slangkop" Mountain (175m) from which the most stunning views of the Atlantic can be appreciated, whatever the season.

The Slangkop lighthouse has seen all of the most dangerously high and rough seas along this stretch of coast. Many a victim has been claimed. One of them, the "Clan Monroe"  ran around in 1905 and settled on the rock-shelf just below the lighthouse.

The "Umhlali" also ran around in 1910, quite near the site of the lighthouse, which was only commissioned in March 1919. Today, the lighthouse keeper, Peter Dennett, welcomes visitors to view the "Kommetjie" lighthouse, and the unique collection of artefacts recovered from various wrecks.

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