A tribute to Hennie Zeelie who was one of the last remaining woodcutters and our neighbour.
If only the Knysna forest could talk, it would tell tales of early woodcutters and ox wagons, of how people grew their own food and lived in peace in the forest. Each tree telling his version of how they coexisted with the woodcutters and the animals.
Daleen Matthee well-known Author who produced many books in her lifetime, amongst those Fiela’s Child, Dreamforest, Circles in the Forest, as most South Africans have got to know as they were also prescribed as school literature, many of her stories were inspired by the lives of the Zeelie descendants.
Michiel and Hendrik (Hennie) Zeelie worked many years in the Goudveld Forests. They did hard labour, from planting veg to fixing ox wagons, chopping down trees and transporting them. The decades of hard manual labour etched on their faces. Two of the most humble people you could have ever met. They would walk up to 20km each day and not bother a soul while going about their daily business. They have great stories to tell about their history, and the history of the area, which takes you on a journey you would not soon forget, infused with a twist of humour.
They could show you spoor and listen to bird noises and identity each one flawlessly while telling you the facts about them. They know the area like the back of their hands every nook and cranny of this beautiful forest we call home. Listing to their stories with a little bit of each of their memories poured into the tale, you can see the fond memories of a time gone by but still lives on in their hearts and minds, each story so captivating, heartfelt and interesting leaving you wanting more.
The Zeelie brothers have become such a great part of our community and their presence…. priceless.
Hennie will be sorely missed by everyone who’s lives he touched.