Monday, March 31, 2008

Portrait of a Village

- Kallie Erasmus -

Portait of a Village” by Annalize Mouton celebrates the 150 year existence of Stanford and captures for posterity one of the most detailed snapshots ever taken of a moment in the history of a town. The book was introduced to Prince Albert by Annalize and her husband Maré, who was responsible for the layout, in the Koggelmander garden one Sunday morning in March and without exception those who came were captivated by the book and the enthusiasm of its author. This, they agreed, was a book you may pick up because it is so beautiful but can’t put down because it is so fascinating.

In a world-first Annalize has photographed most of the people now living in the small Southern Cape town of Stanford and captured for posterity what their town is like. The book contains more than 700 exceptional photographs and a well-researched, easily readable history of the village that celebrates what Stanford was, is and may be, without shying away from the often disparate experiences of the different parts of the local community. Apart from being an engrossing and beautifully written and presented book, “Portrait of a Village” is an important social record of rural South Africa at the beginning of the new Millennium. It may focus on one village, but gives a valuable glimpse of what lies behind the modern façade of all South Africa’s rural communities.

Most platteland towns and villages still resonate with the presence of long-forgotten inhabitants that lives on in the buildings and places they left behind. Sadly, our collective memory of who they were and what the town was like when they were around is all too often just a guess. “Portrait of a Village” will not only tell future generations what we were about but, perhaps even more importantly, turns the mirror inward and reminds us of where we come from and what we are like. This makes it an extraordinary and important book.

“Portrait of a Village” can be bought at Koggelmander Kos- en Kunshuis for R580.00.

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