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by Dana Snyman (Tafelberg)
Middle-aged travel writer Dana Snyman makes his own great trek in this naturally beautiful, but socially fractured country of ours and ponders the groot Afrikaner question – how past actions led to the present situation and what the future might hold for his people and himself.
He transports us into the simple, but ghostly world of the Boers during his journey of more than 8 000km in a bakkie and his seemingly tortured soul, coupled with his journalistic curiosity, even forces him to make arduous and gutsy drives to the birth places of two extremely topical black leaders, Julius Malema and Jacob Zuma.
Snyman has black spots in his own heritage and not least of these is the fact his dying father was once a spiritual leader to the right-wingers in the AWB.
In fact, Pa is an important character in the 173-page story and a happy irony for the Stellenbosch-born writer is, while the old man never ceases to complain about the destruction of the vaderland by “those people”, his last days on earth are taken care of by a trustworthy and loving black male housekeeper.
Another irony pointed out by Snyman is that the only reliable report of the famous Battle of Blood River on December 16,1838 in the old Natal was actually written by a coloured man, not a white.
Jan Bantjes, a descendant of a slave in the Cape colony, had accompanied the Voortrekkers as a teacher and labourer.
But Snyman reminds us, after everything, that home is where the heart is.
Though this English translation of the stirring book would not likely fit among the great works of Shakespeare, and perhaps this is a bit acceptable in the circumstances, it is nevertheless a good read for its honesty, authenticity and humanity in a country where almost everybody appears to be looking for better and more peaceful days. – Carl Peters