In partnership with

Meet Iain Thomas, the 36-year-old South African poet who is famous all over the world except in SA

Trevor Noah has pulled out at the last minute from hosting the MAMAs 2016, due to 'a severe upper respiratory infection'

Koos Kombuis

The fault line in Afrikaner thinking

2011-07-08 07:13
Recently, the very successful Fees voor Afrikaans took place in Amsterdam.

Though I was not there, I heard that it was a fantastic partytjie, attended by brilliant persona such as Breyten Breytenbach (who apparently acted as master of ceremonies), David Kramer, Amanda Strydom, Gert Vlok Nel, and many others.

To be completely truthful, however, I must admit that there is a tiny little part of me that feels relieved at not having been part of that partytjie.

I ’m not quite sure why. Might it have something to do with the fact that, during a photo shoot shortly before or after the recent “Fees voor Afrikaans”, Breyten Breytenbach posed in front of a statue of a white Raka, perched on the bonnet of his Mercedes? I don’t know!

Personal scepticism

Make no mistake. I know the whole thing was a wonderful idea. And I am really not angry at them for not inviting me to their partytjie. By the time they figured out that I was going to be in Holland at the same time anyway, and that it wouldn’t have been necessary to sponsor me a business class seat on KLM, it way too late for them to invite me anyway (which they did), because my agents had already lined up three other gigs nearby in the same time slot! Bummer!

The venue in Mundial where I performed (I was lucky to get a full house because all the festival-goers were drawn into the only enclosed area because of the rain!).

My scepticism about the partytjie is rather personal, and is hopefully unfounded.

But something that has been bothering me for a while, long before the present debate about white guilt in the Afrikaans press, even before 2008, when Breyten Breytenbach published his controversial letter to Nelson Mandela in Harper’s magazine in which he made the following statement: “As ’n jong Suid-Afrikaner by my wil weet of hy of sy die land moet verlaat of nie, sal my bitter raad wees dat hulle moet weggaan.”(I love the guy's poetry, but how on earth can he live with himself after saying such a thing?)

Sure enough, it is very relevant to have a discussion about the emigration problem, even more so now than back in 2008! I especially love the passionate song Jak de Priester has written about this issue! (You will unfortunately either have to buy his latest CD, Roer jou Voete, or attend one of our Brooklyn Babalaas collaborations to hear it.) But surely it’s one thing to express concern about South Africa’s future and quite another thing to tell everyone to f**of out of the country right away!

Indeed, there is a train of thought; one can almost call it a kind of death wish that is rippling through Afrikanerdom at the moment. Breyten is part of it, with his outspoken belief that Afrikaans as a language is about to disappear (why? How? With so many millions of speakers?). It’s like a persistent fault line that is crippling these people mentally and preventing constructive pro-active involvement in South African issues. Of course, it is a paranoia that has been around ever since P.W. Botha invented the “Totale Aanslag”, but it got decidedly worse recently when Julius Malema resurrected the "Shoot the Boer" song. It is a rather narcissistic world view, and it says, in effect: "we Afrikaners are the only people who are being victimised in South Africa right now".

Historical hangover

Is this a hangover from the days when Afrikaners saw themselves as the "Uitverkore Volk", I wonder? Why does it completely ignore the very obvious fact that, at present, ALL South Africans are under siege because of crime, bad service delivery, corruption and government incompetence?

Too many modern-day Afrikaans writers and columnists are endowing a pipsqueak like Julius Malema with almost mythical powers. He has become the Raka of the Volk, their self-fulfilling prophecy of doom. And so, they are creating a new laager for themselves inside their own heads. For such people, there is no actual need to emigrate; they have already effectively lost touch with reality. Nie eens ‘n Disprintjie kan hulle help nie.

So, what am I actually saying? What kind of message are we sending out to the world when we attend events such as the Fees voor Afrikaans? Yes, though I’m really happy that the partytjie was such a magnificent success, had I been there, I might have been just a tad uncomfortable with some of the subtexts in this year’s script.

But, who knows? Perhaps, next year, the partytjie will be even lekkerder! (And, with a bit of luck, I will get my invitation in time!)
Let's get positive about our Taal en Kultuur!

Read more on:    koos kombuis publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
Comments have been closed for this article.

Recent News

And the ship sails on...

2014-03-12 11:56

In a very touching column, Koos Kombuis bids farewell to Channel24. Read this review

Channel24 columnist Koos Kombuis shares one of the most unforgettable evenings of his life: meeting well-known performer Herman van Veen. Read this review

inside channel 24

There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.