Around 265km east of Upington, lying near the border between the Northern Cape and North West Province, the historic settlement of KURUMAN is an important landmark along the main N14 route to and from Gauteng. The settlement grew up around The Eye (“Die Oog” in Afrikaans), a natural spring which, since time immemorial and through drought and flood, has consistently delivered twenty million litres a day of crystal-clear water. The Eye was the focal point for a rather unsettled Tswana clan called the Batlhaping, whose chief, Mothibi, first invited missionaries to live among his people in the early nineteenth century. It was a decision that led to the building of the famous Mission Station by Robert Moffat, and the establishment of Kuruman as the “Gateway to the Interior” of darkest Africa.
These days Kuruman’s centre is pretty scruffy, dominated by cut-price chain stores, faceless supermarkets and litter-strewn minibus-taxi ranks. You can visit The Eye, next to the tourist office, though there isn’t much to look at: a moss-covered slab of rock dribbling water and a lily-covered pond surrounded by a high green fence. More interesting is the Moffat Mission Station some 4km north of town.