Synopsis - Children of the Mist

When Marie Forster, a white grandmother, returns to the remote family farm at Matatiele after over 50 years a series of remarkable coincidences come back to haunt her. She carries a terrible secret from her last visit, a secret involving the misunderstood intentions of Lucas an elderly coloured man. This good Samaritan, who saved her when she was a young teenager, had revealed to Marie a fascinating insight into the history of his lost nation, the Griqua people.

Marie confides in her young granddaughter, Janet, reflecting on the extraordinary history of the Griqua - starting off from their indigenous Hottentot roots before Jan van Riebeeck settled Cape Town in 1652 to its fractured and uncertain status today.

Her story provides a revision of South Africa's early history looking at it from a non-white perspective - in particular the destructive impact of the Boers and the British Colony on a fledgling indigenous nation trying to establish its own unique, multiracial identity. Marie reveals why, in many ways, the Griqua were and are a living symbol of the Rainbow nation.

Marie's daughter Patrice, brought up in the Apartheid era, is astounded and disturbed that her mother is telling her daughter about a people she had always regarded as inferior. Janet, educated in post-1994 South Africa reflects an unbiased acceptance of the important place that the Griqua have in the country's history and is both captivated but appalled by the extraordinary and tragic events that unfolded destroying this nation's rich and unique culture.

The story covers the lifestyle of the Hottentot people, the eviction of the "Bastard" coloured race from Cape Town, their nomadic travels to remote settlements like Griquatown, Daniels Kuil and Phillipolis, the roving lifestyle of the gun-bearing horse riding Bergenaars, major conflicts with hostile fragments of Shaka's mighty army, the impact of the first missionaries on the people, their betrayal by the British resulting in the theft of their lands in the Orange Free State by the Boers, the tragic trek over the Ongeluksnek into Nomansland, the disputed land claims resulting from the discovery of diamonds, the Griqua's new home in Kokstad and their final stand in the late 1870s in which they finally turned on the British after they annexed their fledgling state.

Marie explains how the Apartheid era embedded the final nail in the coffin of the Griqua nation as the descendants of this unique people, so rich in history, turned their backs on their roots to ensure they reaped the benefits of coloured classification during the country's darkest moments. Her story supports the Griqua's claims for land rights in several parts of South Africa. The book concludes with Marie telling Janet about the small scattered Griqua communities that remain across South Africa today.

The final twist comes when Janet and her mother leave Marie alone at the farmhouse. A cold winter blizzard envelopes the farm - and Marie disappears under extraordinary circumstances. On their return Janet discovers Marie's body in the snow and tries to comfort her distraught mother Patrice as she sits beside her body. Her task is made all the more difficult because Janet knows that Lucas has forgiven her and her Granny has joined the Children of the Mist.

This secret is wrapped up in a Strachan and Co coin, South Africa's first indigenous coin which was used by the Griqua as early as the 1870s.

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