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Maverick Life, South Africa

AmaBookaBooka: My Life With The Raincoat People (Podcast)

AmaBookaBooka: My Life With The Raincoat People (Podcast)

South African author, Lesley Smailes, describes her decade inside a mysterious cult. By JONATHAN ANCER.

Before Lesley Smailes left South Africa to go on a gap year to the United States, her mother told her not to get married or join a cult. She did both. A gap year is usually an opportunity for young people to “find themselves” but instead of finding herself Smailes found the Raincoat People – a mysterious end-of-the-world cult. She joined them. Ten years, one marriage and three children later, she came back to South Africa. Smailes, who is today’s guest on AmaBookaBooka, wrote Cult Sister – a book that documents her life in one of the world’s most secretive cults. In fact, it’s so secretive it doesn’t even have a name and has been called the Bicycle Christians, the Dumpster Divers and the Raincoat People.

She talks about eating pickled-flavoured ice-cream, her craving for antelope steak, witnessing, why she was glad to have been “brainwashed” and suddenly being able to speak fluent Spanish – oh, and the end of the world.

Smailes spent a decade hitch-hiking across the United States as she and her fellow cult members searched for redemption.

During that time she got married to a man she hardly knew and had three home-births with no medical assistance. The members of the religious cult lived almost completely off the grid, sewing, cleaning and squatting in abandoned buildings.

Cult Sister is a fascinating account and tells a story of hope and healing.

We then subject Smailes to AmaBookaBooka’s world-famous Sound Effects Rorschach Test.

During this week’s Self-Publishing corner at the end of the episode, Dave Henderson debunks some myths around self-publishing. Interested in self-publishing? Visit the MYeBook.co.za website for regular news. DM

Photo: Lesley Smailes

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