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The Na-Koi-Ja-Ma Island Story

Her name is Na-Koi-Ja-Ma. Nobody is 100% sure but they think that, in ancient West Coast language, “Na-Koi-Ja-Ma” roughly means, “something valuable or something worth protecting”. She is a very small island, only 44½ acres in size.

During the last century the De Beers Mining Company in South Africa extracted hundreds of thousands of carets of diamonds from the desert floor that surrounded her. In all this time, she produced nothing; not a single sliver of a diamond – nothing – and yet, her name means “something valuable or something to protect”.


Over time a small town was build right around this island, trees were planted on her corners, roads were constructed on her edges, but not one brick was laid upon her soil – until 1976.

The town expanded quickly; soon paths, pipes and cables were laid down on the bedrock underneath her red desert sand.

One evening as the dust settled and as the sun set in the west, the last streaks of sunlight highlighted her broken and ripped apart soil. Instinctively the people in the town knew they crossed the line; they made a mistake…

Overnight things started to change and it changed rapidly. The diamonds of yesterday disappeared, – as if it vanished in thin air.

By 1978 – less than 24 months after invading her inner beauty and crisscrossing her landscape for self greed – the mine activities around the town had to close down – shocked but to save face, the mine managers said: it’s only temporarily.

As sad as the closing of the mine was for the miners, the local tribes smiled: “It is the spirits of Na-Koi-Ja-Ma that finally had the last words, they said: “NO – NO-MORE”.

Hundreds of miles away – deep into the Atlantic Ocean and on the coastline the mining activities continued for a few more years but then, – as quickly as the diamond rush started nearly a century earlier, – it all collapsed.

The desert once again become quiet, reclaiming some of its land and some of its sand, – but mostly lying bare for years.

Scarred and wounded with a broken landscape, – one night a miracle happened.

It was a bitter winter. The days were cold, the nights were freezing, but then, totally unexpected, it started to rain, it rained for weeks, – a sight not seen in this desert for a many- many years.

When the sun at last showed itself again, – the wounded diamond fields in the Namaqualand desert, all around our tiny island, turned itself into a natural wonder like never seen before.

Carpets of flowers stretched as far as the eyes could see.

The word spread quickly, – those that could travel to experience this natural transformation first hand looked at the miles and miles of flowers, and at this incredible miracle until their eyes hurt.

They took pictures – they shared it with others – and those people shared it with friends and family and more. People kept on taking pictures and kept on sharing year after year, so much so that this pattern of taking pictures and sharing has now been going on for more than 50 years.

At last, – the Namaqualand desert gave all of us a brand new treasure – a treasure far greater than all the diamonds in the world.

It is a treasure worth sharing, – it’s a valuable treasure worth protecting, – and now for the very first time, – after so many decades, – we now know exactly what the words Na-Koi-Ja-Ma means.

She is an island so vulnerable and valuable that, – when the sun sets tonight in the desert, you can hear her crying for help, – begging to be protected.

It is said that those who help her will be blessed “by the gods in the starts” in ways that can not be described in modern human language.

The proof they say can be felt at night – when you look up and wonder how far the stars are way.

The legend goes that if you stand on Na-Koi-Ja-Ma island, in the middle of this desert, in the middle of the night, the closest stars in our Milky Way, Alpha Centauri is só bright – you can feel the warmth of the stars on your fingertips when you try to touch them.

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