Original name being 'Willston', Afrikaans name for 'Almond tree'. These trees were found near the Rhenish Mission Station from which the Town developed. The name Amandelboom was used from 1845 to 1919. Should you ever find yourself on a Sunday stroll around Amandelboom, the so-called coloured township of Williston Village in the Upper Karoo, best you not be hung-over. That's because, at any moment, you might turn the corner and encounter the Williston Brigade in its full, blaring, marching, joyous glory, waking saints and sinners alike before the Sunday Church services begin.
Amandelboom was the original name of this little Northern Cape Village on the Sak River, which began life as a Rhenish Mission station in 1845. It was named after the wild almond tree where the first missionaries encamped, and then renamed in honour of the then-Colonial Secretary of the Cape, Colonel Hampden Willis. But back to the Williston Brigade, and modern-day Amandelboom. Brigade leader Major Cyril Swart says every time his band marches, 'two or three join our flock'. The local Population is predominantly Nama (of Khoikhoi descent), and the older generation still talks of the River Snake that can turn into a beautiful woman, or a dust devil, at will.
This legend stretches far up into the Richtersveld, to the original River Snake abode, the Orange River. There was once a mystical connection between the River Snake and the coming-of-age ceremonies of the young Nama girls of the region.
(Another talented Amandelboom outfit is Mieta's Riel Dance Group. The “Riel” is the ancient cultural dance of the Khoikhoi).
The group – there is an adult group and a children's group – performs a variety of cultural dances where it features the indigenous wild animals in the environment, including the dassie and baboon.
New Dictionary of South African Names by Peter E. Raper