Legends
Narrative

Table Mountain and Devil’s Peak – South Africa

I’m South African, and I’ve always grown up hearing the story about how the 2 main mountains in my hometown, Cape Town, Table Mountain and Devil’s Peak, got their names.  Table Mountain is a really long, flat mountain that resembles a table, hence the name, and occasionally a wave of clouds will come over it and are extremely flat and resemble a table cloth.  And so from a young age – I can’t remember exactly who told it to me for the first time – but it’s kind of like Santa Clause or the Easter Bunny back home.  Everybody knows the story.  

And the story goes that there was a man named van Hunks, whose wife would not let him smoke at home, so he always had to walk outside to smoke.  And one day he ran into another man who challenged him to a smoking contest.  They smoked for a long, long, long, time, and eventually the man won.  And then the man realized that his partner was actually the devil, so that’s how the second mountain, which neighbors Table Mountain, got the name Devil’s Peak.  And the “tablecloth” that goes with the table symbolizes the smoke from the man who won the competition and his home life and his enjoyment of smoking.

Konstanze (Stanzi) told me that this story has been around for ages, and is passed down in many families in Cape Town. Her family has been in South Africa for at least 7 generations, and has been passed down in her own family for a very long time.  Stanzi (my roommate) has invited me to visit her in South Africa this winter, and said she would make it a point to show me the mountains so I know what they look like in person.  It is a very unique story, I think, because I don’t think I’ve ever heard of a smoking match.  That’s just not something you hear about very often.

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