Nukain Mabuza’s Painted Stone Garden

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Information provided by Hans Bornman from his unpublished book, Lowveld Tour Guide:

Opposite the Esperado turn off, 3 km east of Low’s Creek, is a hill, overlooking the road and railway line, with brightly painted stones. This was once the home and ‘garden’ of Nukain Mabuza who lived here in the sixties and seventies. He spent some fifteen years constructing and decorating his huts and ‘garden’. By the mid-Seventies his home and ‘garden’ had become an important landmark and tourist attraction. Bus-loads of tourists, on their way to the Kruger National Park, stopped at the stones. In 1979 or 1980, while still in good health, and estimated to be in his mid-sixties, Nukain announced that he had become tired of life and that he intended to dig his grave next to his huts. This announcement was not well received by the community on the farm. Deeply offended, Mabuza abandoned his home altogether and moved to another farm where he resumed work as a labourer. For a year or more he moved from one farm to another, eventually accepting a job at Greenstone, 3,5 km south of Kaapmuiden. There he committed suicide in 1981 and is buried in Barberton.

The derelict garden has remained a landmark which still attracts visitors, but expose to the elements over the years has taken its toll. The paint has faded and veld grass now covers the paths and once cleared areas. However, the garden may be given a new lease of life. An attempt to repaint the stones by a group of art student was initiated in 1991. It will be a formidable task to repaint even half the stones and it remains to be seen what will become of this undertaking.