Lavender Hill resident Denver Lopez launched his first e-book, called Boesman Myt, at the memorial for abandoned children near the Central Library on Saturday December 3.
The book, which was inspired by his mother, Lena Breda, who came from Graaff-Reinet at 19 years old to find work, deals with social issues, human trafficking and homelessness – all centred around people from rural areas being forced to come to Cape Town to work, finding themselves in jobs and positions that they really don’t like.
Speaking to the Southern Mail, Mr Lopez said: “This book for me is grappling with issues that we see every day, like people living on the streets and we wonder how did they end up there? How did they end up in that position? Why aren’t they going back home? And you start talking to these people and you realise that they were coerced into coming here because they thought it would be a better life. And it ends up not being the better life.”
He said his mother used to tell him stories about when she came to Cape Town and worked for the “white” people, cooking and cleaning for them for 10 years. His mom then found an opportunity in the textile industry and became a machinist.
“I always thought that, had she not been given that opportunity to work in a factory, she would have also probably ended up on the streets. We always look at Saartjie Baartman and we forget that there are thousands of other Saartjie Baartmans – people coming from the rural areas and coming to work here and they end up being exploited, abused and they end up being alcoholics. They are killed on the streets and no one really knows who they are. They just become these unknown entities.”
He said he chose to launch the book at the memorial because it was fitting, given the content of the book.
“I believe that I was just a conduit for my ancestors’ stories. I was thinking of an appropriate location for this book, then thought of this space, at this memorial that was created, but is still unknown.
“After slavery, there were
7 000 Khoisan children who were just abandoned and no one knew who they were and, if they were not claimed, they would be re-enslaved. Those are 7 000 stories that have still not been told and for me, part of Boesman Myt is to tell our stories, own our stories and we’re going to let it go out into the world.”
Friends of Mr Lopez came out in support of the book, and formed part of the programme for the morning. Domelia Kiewiet read a poem dedicated to Mr Lopez’s mother, while another friend, Morne Fortuin, sang some songs and Lynn Shepherd led a conversation around Boesman Myt.
The e-book costs R30. Call Denver at 078 231 4705 to get a copy.