Music

 

More than just ‘sakkie-sakkie’: Everything you need to know about Afrikaans Music

Admit it… If you’re from South Africa, chances are that there’s an Afrikaans song you love. Maybe it’s the famous Sarie Marais from your hay day? Or perhaps it’s Blou Bul or Liefling that blasts across the stadium during your favourite rugby games? Who knows, your style may even be slightly alternative with a passion for bands like Die Antwoord. Not to mention the Afrikaans rapper, Jack Parow, with songs like Cooler as Ekke.


Left: Jack Parrow in one of his well-known poses. Right: Die Antwoord.

The point is: If you’re a warm-blooded South African, you’re probably a closet Afrikaans music fan.

Afrikaans music knows no boundaries and the variety is endless

After all, Afrikaans music knows no boundaries, has no sacred cows and needs no rationale. It is fresh, dynamic and growing rapidly. The variety of Afrikaans sounds mirror the rich diversity of the Afrikaans language. There is the rhythmic beat of the Khoi ‘Riel’ dancers, the pulse of Afrikaans pop music around the open fire and even the sad slow sounds of alternative and Blues. Or perhaps you are partial to the boombox rap and hip-hop making waves from the Cape Flats or even the self-parody zef music movement.

It’s clear why the music genre is so popular. Afrikaans artists are becoming fearless. From the old folk song “Afrikaners is Plesierig” which Karen Zoid turned into an iconic rock anthem in 2001, to Rina Hugo and poet/rapper YOMA’s collaboration on “Al lê die Berge nog so Blou”. Old meets new, stale gets fresh and the audience grows (excited) with every new note.


 

One of the freshest platforms for new music is ‘Die Wasgoedlyn’, a series (or is it a movement) on kykNETt. Riku Lätti showcases Afrikaans artists as they are – in their own ‘backyards’. Some are known, some less so, some are poor and others have hit it big. They all have one thing in common – they love the Afrikaans language and the music industry. Churchil Naude, a carpenter and rapper from Mitchell’s Plain is one of these. His fierce love for his language and its origins shines through his music. Language purists may be put off by his application of it, but it is poetry to many. In a sense, he reclaims Afrikaans as a language of the people and says he wants to teach the youth that they can create in their mother tongue Afrikaans without having to borrow from overseas.

Music festivals display the diversity of the Afrikaans music culture

True, you may not like all the Afrikaans music genres, but you will be hard-pressed to find a more diverse music culture than we have right here in South Africa. And you don’t have to go far to sample it. You are spoilt for choice with festivals like KKNK, ATKV-Oesfees, Kaboemfees, inniBOS and Vrystaat Kunstefees and that is just to name a few.

Shows all over the show – that is Afrikaans music

Not in South Africa? No problem. Expats in Belgium, Netherlands, Dubai, New Zealand and Australia have been able to see Afrikaans talent on foreign soil. In fact, interest from Netherlands and Belgium has grown steadily over the past few years with Afrikaans artists performing overseas and vice versa. Dana Winner, a Dutch artist, regularly performs in South Africa in Afrikaans. Jannie du Toit, a pioneer of Afrikaans music performs to packed audiences in the Netherlands and Belgium.

 
Jannie du Toit (bottom right) with other Afrikaans artists (2015 show in the Netherlands)

Whatever tickles your fancy and regardless of whether you understand the words, Afrikaans music evokes powerful emotions. Curious yet? We don’t blame you.

Videos

Focus on Artists

Refentse Morake
"…apart from the fact that I sing in Afrikaans, I am still South African. I stand up for every language and culture in South Africa…I think in Afrikaans and sometimes I dream in Sotho, sometimes I actually have to think which language I thought in.”


Refentse Morake was presented with five Ghoema Awards in 2017

Discovered by Cecilia Kruger Marchionna on a pavement in front of his Vereeniging home in 2015, Refentse’s story is one of fairy tales. Cecilia promptly took a video and loaded it onto social media and a nation fell in love. In the same year, Karen Zoid saw him at KKNK and invited him to share the stage with her and he landed his first record deal.

He learned Afrikaans at the Afrikaans primary school he attended, even though his parents don’t speak the language. Afrikaans is his “heart’s language” he says.

His first CD, “My hart bly in ‘n taal” reached double-platinum status in less than a year. His second CD, “Deur my venster” has recently been released and is already a top seller.  

You can’t help but like this humble young man with the beautiful smile. His passion for Afrikaans is contagious. Refentse is definitely going places.

YOMA

“You have to be the highest point of inspiration for yourself…because no one else can bring to the table what you can.”

Claudia Witbooi’s success in Afrikaans rap happened by accident.

Her grandfather gave her a keyboard. Playing around one day, she decided to send her cousin a ‘voicenote’ of her freestyling together with the ‘Hip-hop’ setting on the keyboard – as a joke. When he heard it, he insisted that she had talent and should think seriously about taking it up. And the rest is history.

Her love for poetry was born at school, where she already wrote her own poems. Hip-hop became a platform for putting music to her poetry. “I fell in love with hip-hop because I could give my poetry new life.”
Claudia reckons there is room for a new sound in Afrikaans, but that there are a few sounds that are being overlooked because they are not ‘conventionally’ Afrikaans.

Married to rapper ‘HemelBesem’ (Simon Witbooi), keep an eye on this talented artist.

Die Heuwels Fantasties

“We are Afrikaans and that is why we make Afrikaans music - it’s the language I dream, think and feel in and the way I make sense of the world.”

Boasting immense crossover appeal and a wide local and international fan base, the video for one of their first singles ‘Vinger Alleen’ was nominated for Best Video at the MK Awards in March 2009, without ever having played a single gig.

Die Heuwels Fantasties was born in 2008 composed of Hunter Kennedy (also member of Polisiekar & formerly of aKING), Pierre Greeff (also member of Lukraaketaar) and now includes Fred den Hartog (also member of Thieve) and Sheldon Yoko on drums.

They released five albums to date (one a vinyl) – three of which reached gold status, their Feb 2013 album reaching gold within three months.

One of the first successful electronic acts in South Africa, there are no signs of them losing even an inch of their magic anytime soon.

If you understand Afrikaans you can watch more interesting interviews with Afrikaans music icons here.