story (noun) - an account of imaginary or real people and events told for entertainment.
Whether it’s bedtime stories, fairy tales, ghost stories or tall tales around the fishing waters – stories are a part of our lives from the day we are born. That’s how we know a lot of what we know about our history today – through stories. But they are also good for a good old raucous laugh.
And Afrikaans-storytellers have perfected it to an art. The grand-dame of South African comedy, Evita Bezuidenhout, is the politically incorrect female alter-ego created by Pieter-Dirk Uys. One of the most “famous white women” in South Africa, her bungling commentary on current political and social issues leave us laughing – at ourselves.
Another national institution, Nataniël, with his unique, slow style of (at times naughty) storytelling peppered with puns is equally comfortable in Afrikaans and English.
Schalk Bezuidenhout, the sharp-witted comedian with his old-fashioned black bushy hair and moustache, and unique knitted jerseys, has audiences in stitches. In his ‘Jou Nuusminuut’ clips on kykNET, Bezuidenhout shares his sharp observations on everyday news and events. In one of these video clips he ‘reports’ on Theuns Jordaan and the Afrikaans is Groot management as well as the Proteas in Australia. See video here.
The series OppieStoep on kykNET is the modern take on the popular series that had South Africans laughing every week, Spies & Plessié in the ‘80s and Maak ‘n Las in the ‘90s.
Every country has its “skeletons in the closet” and South Africa is no different. You can find some of the truly disturbing South African ghost stories dating as far back as the mid-1600s, at ‘lekkeslaap’.
A road trip with Afrikaans ...
And then we have the stories about Afrikaans itself…
Anoeschka von Meck is a journalist and writer of the breakthrough novel, Vaselinetjie. In 2016 she followed the dirt roads across our country to remote places armed with a sun hat, a 4x4 and her own chair – for comfort. As Afrikaans's BFF, she followed untrodden paths to find Afrikaans where it lives and breathes. She found an Afrikaans that is diverse, exciting and honest. She found beauty in the dialects formed by the hearts of the men and women who speak it. Her journey brought us Afrikaans stories with names and faces. These are some of her stories…
Afrikaans is a language of caring' - Muhammad Choglay: Bothasig
The Afrikaans of Muhammed Choglay
Afrikaans has a rich heritage to which many languages and cultures contributed. In Bothasig, a suburb of Cape Town, pharmacist Muhammad Choglay tells about the role Afrikaans plays in his and his extended family's lives as Muslims of Indian origin, and why he still speaks the language daily.
He welcomes us into his home and explains that he grew up speaking Afrikaans. His parents and extended family also still speak Afrikaans today. “The way I understand it, it is called Cape Muslim Afrikaans. When I speak to my sister in Mumbai or my mother, they always first ask whether I have eaten for the day. This makes me associate Afrikaans with a truly mothering and caring language.” He uses Afrikaans in his profession as chemist daily and believes that his customers should be served in their own language. As part of her travels to find the ‘face’ of Afrikaans in Cape Town, Anoeschka takes us to the place where Afrikaans wears a keffiyeh.
The Afrikaans of Vito Heyn
There is a fresh new voice in Namaqualand and it is worth taking note of. Everyone is talking about rapper, Vito Heyn (22) – better known as the Namaqualand rapper, V.I.T.O. The past two years have been a whirlwind for this talented young man. Today, ‘HemelBesem’, David Kramer and even Karen Meiring from kykNET are the influential people who noticed and promote his talent! Vito has already produced a collaboration of 'Stoksielalleen' with Kramer and even performed in the Cape at Meiring’s invitation. Watch this space!
Anoeschka meets up with Namaqualand rapper Vito Heyn, or V.I.T.O., in his hometown of Okiep. He is humble, but passionate about his craft and especially about Afrikaans. The days of being made fun of at school for pursuing his passion for rap are long gone. “I tried to rap in English, but I realised I sound like every other rapper out there. I am proud of my culture and proud to rap in Afrikaans. I want to protect my tradition and protect Afrikaans.” He sent a recording to rapper ‘HemelBesem’ (Simon Witbooi). He must have been impressed, because he invited him to join the programme ‘Vat die Rap’. The rest is history. Karen Meiring from kykNET invited him to perform at Canal Walk in Cape Town in 2016. His feet may be firmly on the ground, but V.I.T.O. is going places.
He rebels in Afrikaans - Adam Weilbach
Adam Weilbach’s Afrikaans
With wild hair, intense eyes and the Latin words for ‘truth’ and ‘justice’ tattooed on his arms, Adam Weilbach can easily pass as a character in one of his Afrikaans fantasy stories. From night club owner, to street worker for nightclub guards who later became an actor, he said his meeting with Breyten Breytenbach was a turning point in his life in Afrikaans. "My Afrikaans is a rebel."
At 15-years old something happened that changed the course of Adam Weilbach’s life. Through an unfortunate incident, he lost his first book manuscript and received in return a Breyten Breytenbach anthology of poetry. The Afrikaans he found between those pages, defied everything he knew about the language. It was new, different, free, rebellious and “grown-up”. Free rhyme, puns, wordplay and an Afrikaans that wouldn’t be suppressed. An Afrikaans that said: “No more.” He started writing and he hasn’t stopped since. In his spare time, he is an actor and is restoring a Cape Dutch home. Anoeschka found out why “Afrikaans is his rebellion”.
For more stories about the bitter and the sweet and trials and tribulations of the wonderful people we met on this trip, click here.
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