Antoinette, a Karoo child from Carnarvon in the Northern Cape, already knew as a little girl that she would one day tell stories and learn about herbs. Since she could not obtain a degree in story telling, she decided to study drama and later became known as an actress and story teller. During a trip to Mali, West Africa, she contracted and nearly died of cerebral malaria. Seriously weakened, she went to live at her parents’ home in Beaufort West. During a coincidental visit to Theefontein, the farm of second cousin Jacques Pienaar, she and Oom Johannes’ paths finally crossed. “Only now madam arrives,’ was his slightly impatient first words to her. Since then she has moved into a workers’ hut opposite Oom Johannes’ where she not only experienced complete healing, but also slowly but surely learnt about herbs, veld-knowledge and peace. Seven years later in 2008, the book Kruidjie roer my, became the first step in preserving the Karoo herb heritage for South Africa and the world.
Antoinette still performs, but these days her shows are another way in which she is ‘custodian’ of precious heritage that would otherwise become extinct. Soon (May 2009) she and Oom Johannes will mostly be on the farm so that Antoinette can learn more and write a second book.