A Symbolic Proposal on Table Mountain

Here’s a romantic story of a surprise proposal with a difference! At freeRange JEWELS we absolutely love learning about our customer’s stories and lives, and our favourite experience is to be invested in these kinds of special moments.

Eben came to us with a basic idea for an item of jewellery with which to propose to the love of his life, Minette. Eben remembered Minette had previously said that she wouldn’t be very keen on a ring. So Eben approached us to work closely with him to create a symbolic pendant with which he would propose.

South Africa’s natural heritage and the diverse cultures of the early inhabitants of this land are of great importance to both Minette and Eben. We used these elements to inform our design. From this simple beginning, blossomed a jewellery piece imbued with beautiful meaning and rich symbolism.

Eben surprised Minette, on the 11th of March 2018, with a marriage proposal at their favourite spot on earth. He planned a romantic proposal on the glorious Table Mountain, halfway along Minette’s favourite hike, the Suikerbossie Trail.

Here’s the story in Eben’s words: “ I selected 8 words that are important to us: Family, Peace, Fire, Friendship, Marriage, Joy, Love, and Beauty. These were translated into the Bushman language to honour the hunter-gatherer people who roamed this land for millennia. 

These words were placed around the image of an eland which I chose from a painting in a cave in Larinston, Barkley East. This is engraved on the one face of the pendant. The eland is a symbol of growth and spirituality in Khoisan culture.  It is their most sacred animal, often evoked at rites of passage for women and men and features in a wedding dance.

Minette and Eben Double Pendant 01

For the other side of the small disc, Dawn suggested the Quiver Tree, which is indigenous to South Africa, and known as ‘choje’ to the San people, who hollowed branches out to use as a quiver for their arrows. Around this image she placed our names with the phrase, I love you, translated from Khoekhoe (Nama), a Khoisan language spoken in South Africa, Botswana and Namibia, by Dr Niklaas Fredericks. 

On Sunday, we hiked the Suikerbossie route from Hout Bay, and halfway with the ascent towards the mid-way point I stopped and picked up a stick.  In the tradition of the Korana people, I broke the stick in two, asked Minette to marry me and when she said yes, I handed her the one half of the stick and kept the other.  We then completed the short distance to the midway point where we sat down and I gave her the necklace with the Eland/Quiver-tree pendant.

I served her coffee, an act that was also inspired by a Korana tradition.  The young man would ask the mother of his bride-to-be, if he could marry her daughter, in the presence of her father.  If she agreed, he would return to his home where his own mother would give him coffee.  He would return to his fiance's family where he would serve them the coffee as a sign that his own mom agrees to the union.

Minette and Eben Combo Hike landscape w

Minette and I had just finished our coffee when our two mountain guide friends arrived. Completely unbeknown to Minette, at 5:00 that morning, Achmat Jackson and Taahir Osman guided a small party of family onto the top of Table Mountain, and joined the Suikerbossie trail. This small party was made up of my brother, Elmar and his son, Pieter-Willem, Minette's sister, Luani and her son Liam, as well as my kids, Tristan and Lauren.     

Minette was completely taken by surprise. She had been wishing for quite some time for her sister and Liam to do this hike with her. When we all settled down I recounted how I proposed to her and that she had accepted, and I further explained the symbolism of the pendant, the breaking of the stick, and the coffee.  Each person was given a mug, on which we had printed the pendant designs on each side, and each person’s name. I served the rest of the group coffee, and we drank together.

My last words go to my wife-to-be, Minette. You are an amazing person and I love you deeply! Our entire life is an unforgettable adventure and yesterday was beautiful! You rock!!! “

Minette and Eben Smiling Portrait landscape

Special thanks to Dawn Bolton who not only put together the beautiful images and article but also assisted with the fabulous and unique design.

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