Book Launch

Stanford 150: Portrait of a Village was launched on 9 Februarie 2008 and the whole village was invited! Eleven sheep were braaied, there were salads, bread, wine… and for the first time in may, many years the whole community were together again!

“Die bekendstelling van die koffietafel-boek wat Annalize Mouton vir die 150ste herdenkingsjaar van Stanford geskep het, het tradisie gevolg. En dit 180 grade op sy kop gedraai. Tradisie nommer een: Uithanglokaal met wyn en ietsie om te eet. Stanford se boekbekendstelling het die lokaal, plaaslike kunsgalery, en wyn gehad, en toe verder gegaan. Die galery is langs die dorpsmeent wat beteken het dat daar plek vir die hele dorp en die tafels vir die 11 skape op die spit, slaaie, brode en selfs a bierkaravaan was.
Tradisie nommer twee: Nooi ‘n paar belangrike mense, ‘n paar vriende en die wat ‘n mens werklik moet. Vir die Stanford bekendstelling is plakkate opgesit deur die hele dorp – almal op Stanford is genooi om dit by te woon.
Tradisie nommer drie het met die boek self te doen: ‘n Goeie gedenkboek se doelwit is tweeledig. Dit moet die geskiedenis en huidige leefwyse met oorgawe en korrektheid weergee. Tweedens moet so ‘n gedenkboek goed lyk en lekker lees. Dit moet ‘n mens lok om dit weer en weer op te tel. Dit het die Moutons uitstekend reggekry. Hoe hulle soveel inwoners kan inkry sonder om die boek na ’n katalogus te laat lyk onderstreep vakmanskap. Maar die boek oor Stanford gaan verder as tradisie. Dit is nie net ‘n uitstekende weergawe van die wel en wee van Stanford se mense nie. Dit was duidelik vir enigeen wat die bekendstelling bygewoon het. Die Stanford-boek het die gemeenskap weerspieël en bymekaargebring. Aardsbiskop Tutu sou weereens van ‘n “rainbow nation” kon praat as hy dié aand op die meent was. Hierdie effek van die boek is raak vasgevat deur een van die gaste by die bekendstelling wat gesê het: “Hierdie boek het meer gedoen om die mense van Stanford bymekaar te kry as al die pogings van die kerke op die dorp.” (Jan Coetzee, Stellenbosch)

“…the book was here and captured between the covers is the heart and soul of Stanford. A large glossy statement filled with the history, the heartache and present day life in the village. Annalize had lived in the village for more than a decade and she had the trust of the entire community. Over five months, she had moved lightly from farm house to humble home, putting her subjects at ease as she absorbed their personalities. Using only natural light, she captured the essence of each one. In fact, Annalize was born to produce this book, and seems the only person who could have drawn this book together with such compassion and sensitivity. She had the courage to take off the lid on the thorny issue of the forced removals and to record comments from some of those affected by it’s devastation. One person staggered out of the hall with five copies of the book! Some had saved up to buy two, while others were happily clutching their single copy, knowing they were holding a rare piece of South African history. Proudest of all, were the two young Xhosa girls, each of whom Annalize had presented with a copy, in gratitude for their help over the months with translation and acceptance as she moved amongst the Xhosa community. (Kerri Brokensha, editor Stanford River Talk)

“Dit was fantasties om Saterdagaand groepies groepies mense te sien wat met aandag die boek deurblaai – asook hoe lekker oor die kleurgrens heen met mekaar gekuier en gesels het. Julle (en die boek) het voorwaar ‘unity in the community’ bewerkstellig!!!” (Bea Whittaker, Milkwood Communications, Stanford)

…ordinary this book is certainly not. From the moment you turn the first page it catches your heart and leads you on.

Nowhere was this better illustrated than at the book’s official launch at the Stanford Galleries where an impoverished family ranging from white-haired grandparents to small children bought a single copy with a handful of cash and sat on the village common to read it, and as the white-haired matriarch took responsibility and slowly turned the pages, her brood of three generations craning eagerly over her shoulders shouted: “next page, Ouma, next  page!”

They came in their hundreds. They played guitars and sang. They cheered and made speeches that became emotional and disjointed as the good wine flowed. There were people from the “skema” and the township, and people from the elegant homes on the river and from the leafy homes in the town and around the market place. And back and forth among the crowds were running the children. The dancing and the singing went on until the early hours of the morning. There had never been a book launch like it in the history of South African publishing. What a party!

(Peter Younghusband, author and former foreign correspondent in Africa and also Washington bureau chief for the Daily Mail)

These photos of the launch on the Village Green were all taken by Mr Willem Appel, previously head master of Die Bron school.

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