By Chris Marais and Julienne du Toit
Phillip Fourie is known in the Northern Cape village of Philipstown as the “white haired man who drives the black bakkie.”
Some also call him “the man with the spotted pigs” or “the man with the shiny house”. But, really, “Mr Offgrid” would be the most accurate way to describe him. And, these days, it’s all about living off the grid.
He and his wife Hennie have named their home Viv Lavi.
“It’s Creole for ‘Love Life’. We keep sheep, chickens, milk goats and our neighbours are very quiet,” he says, looking pointedly across at the town graveyard.
Their home is a set of three workers’ houses you buy in kit form from small-town co-ops these days. They have an open three-sided courtyard facing the aptly-named Pramberge (Breast-shaped Mountains) in the distance – a view they toast every evening with a glass of wine to hand.
Everywhere there are signs that proclaim bits of wisdom like “There is no end to Beingness” and “Shit Happens”, Philip’s current favourite.
The couple grow most of their own food on a six-hectare plot of land, and what they don’t consume they use at their coffee shop in the town: chillies for hot sauce, homestead eggs and ten kinds of tomatoes.
Their groundwater is solar-pumped. They sold their TV and kept their portable radio.
“We live debt-free, frugally and happily.”
And why Philipstown, Phillip?
“Well, it was either Philipstown or Fouriesburg,” he answers. Geddit?