The Sunburnt Queen
In the late 1730s a seven-year-old English girl is washed up on the Wild Coast ...
This is the true account of "the castaways" ... and Bessie, of how she was adopted by her rescuers, the amaMpondo. She grew to be a woman of astounding beauty and wisdom and became the Great Wife of a prince. So started the enduring legacy of a dynasty that extends to many of today's Xhosa royal families.
Set against the sweeping backdrop of South Africa's, and in particular the eastern Cape's, turbulent history, the reader will be drawn into the tragedies and triumphs of the various cultures and nationalities that clashed and, on occasion, gelled, on the "frontier" regions of the Fish and the Kei rivers.
The pirates, the Portuguese, the Dutch, the British, the Boers, the Khoi, the San, the Malay and Indian slaves, the Zulu ... and the amaXhosa ... these are the players in this rich epic. It is a story of massacres and genocide, of frontier wars and famine, the great Cattle-Killing and the Mfecane, of upheavals and betrayals ... and of survival and endurance.
And through this vast panorama are the thousands of European and Asian castaways that are shipwrecked on the treacherous shores of the Wild Coast; some from famous wrecks like the Grosvenor, and many from unknown East Indiamen that had simply vanished. Many died, some were cannibalised, but others were absorbed into the peoples of the amaXhosa ...
This is their compelling story ...
If there is a message to be gleaned from the story of Bessie it is this: We South Africans are far more alike than we are different, and we all have so much more to gain by emphasising our similarities rather than our differences, and by cherishing our common heritage.
Author Hazel Crampton
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