Well-known Jozi socialite and communications guru George Knoke says never in a million years could he imagine that a book about farmers would lead to one of the hottest launches he has seen in Gauteng.
Knoke counted among the jam-packed audience who rocked up to Love Books in Johannesburg last night for the first official launch function of For the Love of the Land, the much-anticipated book by Food For Mzansi co-founders Ivor Price and Kobus Louwrens. Knoke says, “It was so encouraging to see young black farmers in the majority at the launch. Normally at a book launch on farming, nobody would have blinked an eye and showed up, but the turnout last night was amazing. This is unheard of and many of the farmers featured in the book were there also, travelling from the Eastern Cape and the Free State. Never in my wildest dreams I could imagine something like this happening. It was a very active and attentive audience too and we saw the good, the bad and the ugly.”
The talk was led by seasoned journalist and broadcaster Nickolaus Bauer, who described the book as an “astonishing and emotive piece of literature” with a handle on the heated land reform debate from a farmer’s perspective.
Also in attendance was managament executive Taffia Keight, Constitutional law expert prof. Elmien du Plessis, Ipsos director Mari Harris, business development expert Wayne Sussman, political commentator prof. Anthoni van Nieuwkerk and soap star Stephanie Baartman.
The authors say they did not have farmers in mind as their target readers when they started writing and compiling the book featuring 30 diverse South African farmers, including Wadea Jappie, Siviwe Tikana, Philip Jonker, Pieter du Plessis and Rita-Theresa du Plessis van der Mescht. Louwrens says he pictured his 80-year-old parents, Koos and Gertie, whilst Price hoped that “ordinary people, those who tune in to radio current affairs show and get involved with nasty fights on Facebook and Twitter” would pick up a copy.
Louwrens says, “It’s not fashionable these days, but we are idealists. So, instead of championing our own opinions, we tried to give people more colours and shades (of views) to inform their thinking about farmers and agriculture. I don’t think my personal opinion on land reform will change South Africa or make it better. The purpose was simply to facilitate conversation.”
When pressed by Bauer about his personal views on land expropriation without compensation, Price said: “I have never met a single farmer, let alone a white farmer, who is not pro land reform. But we don’t often see that view reflected in the mainstream media… What does it mean when people say, ‘Give back the land’? They are saying, ‘Give us housing. Give us water. Give us electricity. Give us access to credit.’ They are not asking for agricultural land. They do not necessarily want to farm because it’s a tough thing to do.”
Next up for Price and Louwrens is the Western Cape launch of For the Love of the Land. More than 200 people have already confirmed their attendance for the launch on Saturday, 23 November at 16:00 at Wilderer Spice Route in Paarl. The authors will be in conversation with much-loved radio personality Martelize Brink. To confirm your attendance for this event send an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org.
On Tuesday, 3 December at 19:00 they will be discussing the book with Centurion readers at the InnJoy Boutique Hotel. To confirm your attendance e-mail email@example.com.
For the Love of the Land is available at bookstores nationwide for R240 and will also be sold at the Paarl and Centurion launch functions where the authors will sign copies.