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Koos Kombuis

A tribute to the oldest Afrikaans mag!

2011-10-07 11:16
Those of you who attended this year’s Oppikoppi festival might have been accosted, somewhere in the course of your drunken revelry and merry abandon, by somebody who tried to sell you, give you, or somehow expose you to a curious little magazine with the even more curious title of Ons Klyntji.

Scoff not. This year's Ons Klyntji – neatly printed on A6 size paper, a booklet small enough to fit into a pocket of your Levi jeans – is a magazine with a proud history. The origins of this wacky publication, which sports 144 pages of sheer delightful wackiness (among other things poetry by David Kramer, interviews with The Black Hotels and Gazelle, as well as a very sexy short graphic novel by Angola Badprop about a superheroine called Lazer Liza) lie in the dim and distant past of Afrikanerdom.

Ons Klyntji dates, in fact, from the late nineteenth century, when men were men and horses were nervous, when the gunsmoke of voorlaaier shots still hovered over the cornfields, and when the younger generation of alternative Afrikaans writers and authors gave themselves weird and in-your-face pseudonyms such as Oom Lokomotief and Arnoldus Pannevis. (Of course, I wouldn’t blame you if this reminds you of our own Voëlvry era - Bernoldus Niemand, Piet Pers, etc. – the only difference between the wacky guys of the 1890's and the wacky guys of the 1980’s was the fact that, back then, beards were compulsory.)


As an Afrikaans writer, I have always been fascinated by the fact that the most important happenings in Afrikaans literature often take place outside the establishment. Back in the 1890's, the literary milieu was still more Dutch than Afrikaans, and the rebels who started the first Ons Klyntji were probably frowned upon by the older generation of the time.

History tends to repeat itself; only the other day, I discovered the work of prolific Afrikaans author Floris Brown, who, in spite of a large and respected body of acclaimed writings in various genres, is still more well-known within the so-called coloured community and in the Benelux countries than among local academics. In many ways, the growing and evolving part of our language is still a 'kitchen dialect', and a lot of the truly exciting, cutting-edge stuff is taking place outside the mainstream – in the kitchen instead of the lounge of the grand old manor which constitutes 'official' Afrikanerdom, so to speak.

Shady fringes

After the death of the first Ons Klyntji sometime during the early twentieth century, the magazine remained dormant until it was revived by myself and a friend called One-Love in the late nineties. I provided the photocopier and Selotape, and One-Love donated his last fifty rand note to enable us to revive this proud publication, almost exactly a hundred years after its birth.

Our effort lasted for quite a few years and several issues, but did not really take off until Toast Coetzer and Erns Grundling became the new team of editors a few years ago. They have now published numerous issues. Their bumper 2011 edition has been the most successful one up to date, proving immensely popular among younger readers who move around in the shady fringes of South African counter-culture.

I'm not sure how much stock of the 2011 issue there are left now, but interested parties can drop en email to Toast at to get on the mailing list for the next issue.
Who said size was important? One day, this little magazine might even sell more copies than Die Huisgenoot! Lank lewe Die Kombuistaal!

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