Tiny Post Retief in the spotlight

PROFILING POST RETIEF: Author and deputy principal at Aliwal North Primary School, Ronél de Lange-Bester, making a presentation about the small farming area, Post Retief, during her book launch at the Cathcart Community Church on Saturday Picture: ANDISA BONANI

Growing up in the almost unknown town of Post Retief located in the “foothills of the Winterberg mountains” helped shape author Ronél de Lange-Bester, who published a memoir about her upbringing in the small area with the richest history.

De Lange-Bester launched her “Chronicles from Post Retief/ Kronieke uit Post Retief” during an intimate gathering at the Cathcart Community Church on Saturday, where she gave the audience an idea of what the book was about and how it was structured.

She indicated she had started writing short stories about her upbringing in the area about six years ago and had been constantly told by those close to her to turn them into a book which she eventually did.

“Last year I decided to put everything together in a book and as I collated my writings I realised I needed someone to interpret them into illustrations to provide some visual attraction. I approached a Cathcart illustrator, Sandi Sali, and he did such a magnificent job by sketching some of the things I wrote about,” said De Lange-Bester.

The book is a considerable body of work, meticulously researched, and a consolidation of fragmented facts of this lesser-known, but no less interesting historic battlefield, drawn from a wealth of sources and memoirs of real life.

Post Retief is a thriving farming area in the Winterberg, surrounded by the towns of Bedford, Adelaide, Fort Beaufort and Tarkastad.

“The book features stories of conflict, war, hardship and survival, but also boasts joyous memories of more recent times – featuring normal people with special stories of newly-found tranquillity and humanity.

“The one half of the book is written in Afrikaans and the other in English. It is two books in one although the front half does not mirror the back one. It is totally different stories altogether with bits of isiXhosa here and there because I grew up speaking the language.”

The author said she wanted people to learn that they came from a divided past, but should not stay stuck in the past because it was up to them to put their minds together to create a better future.

“I would not be the person I am today if it were not for my upbringing in Post Retief. Growing up in the 1960s in Post Retief we were one people – black and white. I only discovered segregation as a young adult.”

De Lange-Bester who has lived in Cathcart for 31 years, is moving to Aliwal North and hopes to publish another book in future about the North Eastern Cape which would include Sterkstroom, Molteno, Burgersdorp and Aliwal North.

She has previously published an Afrikaans poetry book entitled “Kaleidoskoop vol gedigte”, which she said was basically her saying “listen to my heart as I throw it in ink and paper.

“As you travel the road with me while reading the book, roam slowly because somewhere in between I bring my life’s stories like little hatchlings huddled in the palm of my hand, so step slowly and enjoy,” said De Lange-Bester.

To order a book you may contact the author on 076-591 6001.


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