GEORGE NEWS -"They call her Nobantu. I call her mother." This is how Knysna-grown author Anelia Schutte introduces her mother in her book For the People("Nobantu"). The book recounts how her mother, Owéna, a white social worker, worked her way into the hearts of the destitute people in Knysna's townships in the tumultuous '80s.
Owéna was at the George Library last Saturday morning to share more about For the people. The event was part of a series by or about authors from the Garden Route, hosted this month by the George Library. The series goes under the heading "Make your Mark".
The audience was hanging on Owéna's every word. The story of a politically naive white woman who is appointed as the first social worker for black people in Knysna is one of courage, love and perseverance.
It is the story of a woman who became so trusted that she was the only one allowed - and welcomed - in the townships during the uprisings and protests in the 1980s. It is the story of a woman who today, 30 years later, is still hailed "Nobantu!" when she walks in the streets of Knysna.
Owéna also told how Anelia, who was living in London at the time, came to write the book. For Owéna her experiences were just part of her job. But when Anelia wrote about her in a short story at a writer's retreat, she was told, "There's a book here".
During two visits to her childhood town, Anelia had numerous interviews and worked through over 1 000 documents as part of her research. The book was published as an e-book in 2014 and as a paperback this year.
George Library invites the public to the next two Make your Mark talks on Saturday mornings. Both events will take place in the George Library foyer, starting at 11:00.
The Afrikaans crime writer Chris Karsten will be talking about his latest book, Anderman se vrou, on Saturday 16 November. Karsten lives in Canada but regularly visits his holiday home in the Garden Route.
The last event on 23 November will feature the poet Archie Swanson, whose talk is titled "Hearing: seeing in poetry".
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