Land of My Ancestors by Dr Botlale Tema (née Moloto) tells the story of the Moloto family’s generational history on the Welgeval farm in what is the current-day Pilanesberg area, near Rustenberg. The genesis of the Moloto’s history at Welgeval traces back to the mid-nineteenth century during which time slavery still existed. Tema would later discover that the Moloto’s occupation of Welgeval, was the result of early slavery that had taken her ancestors from their childhood homes to work on Boer farms in the western Transvaal.
Dispelling her longheld belief that slavery in South Africa only occurred in the Cape region, Tema learnt that slavery had indeed taken placed in Northern parts of the country too, and had involved her direct ancestors from 1852. Tema’s ancestors were taken from their village 4000 kms away from Welgeval.
The book crucially captures Dr Tema’s desire to relay the family’s triumphs from a history of difficulty and hurt, often times disrupted by evictions from the farm. [Members of the family have gone on to pursue successful livelihoods among them careers in education like Tema’s father who was a school principle, and Tema herself, who previously was the secretary-general of the National Commission of UNESCO]. The family’s last land dispossession occurred in 1980 with the Bophutatswana government’s development of the Pilanesberg National Park.
Tema explained that Land of My Ancestors is also a blessing for being the evidentiary proof the Moloto family (descendants) needed during the land claims process that they undertook. Today, the Moloto’s are part owners of the Pilanesberg Game Reserve as a result of that process.
Land of My Ancestors was first published as The People of Welgeval but later changed to better relate to readers, and significantly express the text’s essence of a story of land, its people, and ownership.