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‘Exploring the past, bringing it to vivid life with wonderful prose . . . Pedder writes with perspicacity and sensitivity . . . We need more books like this’ Observer

‘Fascincating and engrossing’ Literary Review

How did South Africa turn out the way it did? In Moederland – ‘Motherland’, in Afrikaans – Cato Pedder takes us on an eye-opening journey across four centuries, tracing the country’s turbulent past and the rise and fall of apartheid (and her family’s charged legacy) through the lives of nine very different women.

KROTOA is Khoikhoi translator to the newly arrived Dutch East India Company

ANGELA, a former slave from Bengal, climbs the ladder of settler society

ELSJE arrives from Germany aged 3, marries at 13, a mother at 15

ANNA, mistress of the Cape’s grandest estate, regains control from her violent husband

MARGARETHA, uncompromising Afrikaner farmer, resists the abolition of slavery

ANNA loads her family on an ox-wagon and treks into the interior to elude the British

ISIE survives the Boer War to become wife of South Africa’s Prime Minister and ‘Mother of the Nation’

CATO escapes to England and the Quakers as white supremacy mutates into apartheid

PETRONELLA, returning to the Motherland, falls in love across the colour bar and risks everything to fight the system her grandfather set in motion.

Reviews

Caroline Sanderson, Editor's choice, Bookseller
Compelling . . . traces South Africa's turbulent past through the contrasting lives of nine women in [Cato Pedder's] prehistory. From 1600s Cape Town, then a remote outpost of the Dutch East India Company to her aunt Petronella who falls in love with a 'coloured' man, she unpacks the cargoes of her Afrikaans heritage
Literary Review
Fascinating and engrossing . . . part memoir, part account of [Pedder's] own lineage and part exploration of what it is to be wedded through one's family to race exploitation and conquest
Observer
Informed by impressively thorough research . . . Exploring the past, bringing it to vivid life with wonderful prose, [Pedder] intersects the lives of her ancestors with her own thoughts and experiences . . . But this is not another whinging apologia by a white author. Pedder writes with perspicacity and sensitivity . . . Moederland provides more questions than answers, but that is not a flaw. It is the questioning that makes this book valuable . . . We need more books like this, we need more detailed research, more people allowing themselves to be uncomfortable and to question
Independent
These women's stories come down to us in fragments, having been written out of 'recorded history' . . . Moederland proves Cato Pedder to be uniquely qualified to tell that story