Two young boys are torn from their families and swept into the informal slave trade of the mid-1800s. They forge a friendship that spans a lifetime and gives rise to this uniquely South African narrative, based on the ancestors of Botlhale Tema.
Released from the shackles of slavery and in search of a lost sister, Maja and Polomane befriend a Swiss missionary and set off to a remote farm in the Pilanesberg region, Welgeval, to establish a mission station and make a new life for themselves. As they raise their families and take in other people who have been dispossessed, we follow the births, deaths, adventures and joys of the farm's inhabitants in their struggle to build a new community.
Set against the backdrop of slavery, colonialism, the Anglo-Boer War and the rise of apartheid, The People of Welgeval is a superbly crafted and dramatic historical novel. It is an epic story about friendship and family, landownership and learning, and about how people transform themselves from victims to victors.
When working on the UNESCO Slave Route project, Botlhale Tema discovered the extraordinary fact that two boys who had been slaves in the mid-nineteenth century had founded her well-established family and community at Welgeval. She pieced together the fragments of information from relatives and members of the community, and scoured the archives to produce the story, The People of Welgeval.
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Botlhale Tema was born in Johannesburg but raised in small villages and townships in the Western Transvaal. She studied the sciences in South Africa and the United Kingdom. She has worked as a teacher, and was first secretary general of the South African National Commission for UNESCO. She is currently general manager responsible for international cooperation at the Department of Science and Technology.Review:
"The People of Welgeval is a beautifully written epic about life, death, suffering and survival." --The Star Tonight
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Book Description Zebra Press, Cape Town, 2006. Softcover. Near fine.; 8vo. Bookseller Inventory # 162349
Book Description Zebra Press, 2007. Paperback. Book Condition: Used; Good. Bookseller Inventory # 1895772
Book Description U.S.A.: Struik Publishers, 2006. Soft cover. Book Condition: As New. No Jacket. 1st Edition. New softcover novel. Inscribed and signed by the author. Inscribed by Author(s). Bookseller Inventory # 00200