Land Of My Ancestors
An Epic South African Story, Based On True Events
By Botlhale Tema
Penguin Books SA, 2019
When working on the UNESCO Slave Route project in the early 2000s, Botlhale Tema discovered the extraordinary fact that her highly educated family from the farm Welgeval in the Pilanesberg had originated with two young men who had been child slaves in the midnineteenth century. She pieced together the fragments of information from relatives and members of the community, and scoured the archives to produce this book.
Land Of My Ancestors, previously published as The People Of Welgeval, tells the story of the two young men and their descendants, as they build a life for themselves on Welgeval. As they raise their families and take in 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, this is a fascinating and insightful retelling of history. It is an inspiring story about friendship and family, landownership and learning, and about how people transform themselves from victims to victors.
A new prologue and epilogue give more historical context to the narrative and tell the story of the land claim involving the farm, which happened after the book’s original publication.