When Mildred Williams was taught about the Waterboers in her grade 5 history lesson, she did not know it was her family she was learning about.
“I knew my gran’s surname was Waterboer; I just didn’t know that they were a royal family – a dynasty. My gran then decided to tell me more about her family – the royals from the Northern Cape,” she told VIBEZ!
Her job-hunting experience in Cape Town in 2019 turned into a spiritual journey, which resulted in her first-ever book, ‘The return of the Waterboers’, in which she unpacks the connections between many families who all belong to her family.
She described the journey of rediscovery and self-discovery as fulfilling and reinvigorating, adding that “When you find your ancestral lineage or roots, you find yourself”.
“This journey got me to understand the tradition of transferring names that remained in the family to keep the historical and biological lines alive… Now I am at that
point when I can proudly say I am a descendant of the Waterboers; I belong with them.”
In the book, Williams chronicles the journeys of her ancestors Nicholas and Johannes Waterboer, who fought ongoing tiresome battles with the national government, the British as well as the South African exploration company.
Williams, a trained journalist and PR strategist, said compiling the book took a “lifetime, as it was a matter of pasting and sorting” every bit of information she had heard of her family as well as material from archives, libraries, etc.
One of these interviewees was Ouma Eva Majiedt Beukes, who turned 99 in August this year, and another was her mom’s cousin, auntie Doesie Swartz, who died shortly after Williams interviewed her in October 2020.
“One might say that it took me three years to write this book, as it involved a lot of research and travel. I travelled about three times a year from 2019. While home, I would write night and day.”
Williams said the few genealogy courses she enrolled in became handy while she was doing her research, while her parents were very supportive on this journey.
Asked how she decided on the title of the book, she said her great-great-grandfather Johannes Waterboer left his home country, SA – and now, his descendants will be able to reconnect with their families all over the world; thus, “the Waterboers are returning to all they’ve left behind”.
Some of the families who are mentioned in the book are the Groenewalds, Jansens, Tieties, Jobs, Ockhuizens, Majiedts, Waterboers, Williams, Du Plessis, Delies, Koopmans, Andrews, Eimans, Resandts, De Wees, Bezuidenhouts, De Klerks, Markgraffs, Leukes, Feris, Collins, Korners, Mallets, Mosterts, Van Wyks, Pietersens, Moutons and Nels.
With the book already launched in SA earlier this year, Williams said she is still receiving amazing feedback from all over the world, with many people reaching out in appreciation of her work.
Further probed about what she hopes the book will achieve, Williams, a former Air Namibia and Telecom Namibia’s PRO, said through the book and her work, she has already reconnected families and continues to do so daily.
“I have now become a genealogist, a family researcher and I have helped other people to compile their family trees.”
The book was published in SA, and Williams is currently distributing the book herself.
Williams has also since started a 30-minute radio programme that airs Wednesdays on Infinity Radio in Rehoboth, called ‘Ons Komvandaar’, meaning We are from there. It is also the name of her Facebook page.