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CLAIM TO THE COUNTRY (article first published : 2007-08-7)

Jacana Media has recently published Claim to the Country - The Archive of Wilhelm Bleek and Lucy Lloyd by Pippa Skotnes.

In the 1870s, facing cultural extinction and the death of their language, several |xam men and women told their stories to Wilhelm Bleek and Lucy Lloyd, two pioneering colonial scholars at the Cape.

The narratives of these San (or Bushmen) were of the land, the rain, the history of the first people, the origin of the moon and stars. They told stories of their beliefs and their individual lives; how stories floated on the wind, and how they had come to Cape Town as prisoners of the British Crown.

All these narratives were faithfully recorded and translated by Bleek and Lloyd, creating an archive of over 13,000 pages which includes drawings, notebooks, maps and photographs. Now residing in three main institutions – the University of Cape Town, the South African Museum and the National Library of South Africa – this archive has recently been entered into Unesco’s Memory of the World Register.

Created, compiled and introduced by Pippa Skotnes, Claim to the Country publishes for the first time, in book form and on an accompanying DVD, all the notebook pages and drawings that comprise the bulk of the archive. It also includes several contextualising essays by well-known scholars and a searchable index for all the narratives and contributors. The work sets out to present the reader with something of the experience of being in the archive: the archive is reflected and evoked in both the layout and the design of what is also a beautiful art book.

Claim to the Country is printed in full colour - ISBN 978-1-77009-337-9 and retails at R350.




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