Plainsman Koppies

A “koppie” is a small volcanic extrusion emerging out of a plain. It is the name given to such structures that occur throughout Southern Africa. The Earthsky is scattered with them. It is in these natural ‘islands’, in the midst of the endless fernland of the plain, that the Plainsmen make their homes. As the location of so much of The Standing Dead, I had to take care in exploring and understanding the topography of koppies: the Koppie of the Ochre in particular.

The sketch shows my original conception of a koppie. If I remember correctly, the photograph is of one in Nigeria. It became the model for the Koppie. Notice how I have imagined what the cluster of rocks might appear like from above. It is into the cleft between two of them that I inserted the Ancestor House. Note also the scribble on the right, showing one of the cedars or mother trees each with its associated hearth.