Whose Afrikaans is it anyway?

May 24, 2007 at 11:54 am (De la Rey, language, rugby)

What does it mean to be Afrikaans in SA? I read sales of an Afrikaans Sunday paper soared after they had the Bulls coverage on its front page and wondered (aloud) why you’d buy a paper if you’d seen the game on TV.
Someone (an Afrikaans guy) hearing this said rugby is the only thing Afrikaans people have left so they cling to it madly in any shape, form, size, colour, etc. True? I don’t know. That’s why I’m throwing it out there.
What he basically says is Afrikaans people don’t have a leader; they don’t know where they’re going or what they want.
Afloat, I think, was the word he used, without a rudder or a captain. That’s why Bok’s De la Rey made such an impression, he says. But that’s his version of Afrikaans people. What about the other? It’s not only white people who love rugby who are Afrikaans.
Whose Afrikaans is it? My coloured parents who couldn’t give a damn about Bok or rugby? Or the white Afrikaans people who play that song at the breakfast table. I’m gatvol of the language debate at Stellenbosch University because it’s vrek boring and nobody on the ground really gives a shit.
Or maybe don’t know the answer because I’m not Afrikaans. That’s why I’m asking you.



  1. madamm said,

    I think to an extent the ‘being’of Afrikaans has become so isolated that many Afrikaans-speaking people feel alienated. Like you, I don’t care about the De la Rey song (haven’t even heard it!) and what I know about rugby is dangerous.
    But why all this clinging to an identity? It’s like Amanda Gouws said in Die Burger (today) where in the world are you going to find people who are more obssessed with their identity than Afrikaners?

  2. tbhanks said,

    True. Too true. But is it only white Afrikaans people who cling to an identity?

  3. madamm said,

    It really does seem that way- but that’s just the media I must add.
    Personally identity is personal and not something I want’cast in stone- not mine anyway.

  4. tbhanks said,

    Ok, makes sense. But then should the media be held accountable?

  5. madamm said,

    The media can and can’t be held accountable.
    On the one hand how are people going to know, and on the other hand the perpetuation of topics must be scrutinised.

  6. tbhanks said,

    So where to from here then? It’s like a vicious cycle and I don’t really see a gap.

  7. madamm said,

    Read far and wide…people limit themselves too much

  8. tbhanks said,

    But the sad thing is most people don’t. They read their daily and Sunday newspaper, then stew in a mass of nerves that the new dispensation is going to be the end of them. I love this country; I hate this country. That’s my crisis for the day.

  9. Pierre said,

    Identity is power. Afrikaners (by that I mean white Afrikaans speaking South Africans who buy into all that stuff) have lost power after apartheid and many of them feel lost and angry. They look at the way in which Africans (black Africans) have used the racial identity (which not so long ago got them ordered around the house to the back door or locked up and tortured) to cement their power in the new South Africa and they feel very angry. The tables have turned and they do not like it.

    For those of us who are Afrikaans and white but do not see ourselves as Afrikaners this whole debate seem pointless. Is it not far better and more relevant to ask how we want to fit in and how we want to contribute to the new South Africa. Let’s face it, Ntando is hipper than Bok van Blerk and an evening at the Cape Town Jazz festival far more exciting than a week at the Oudshoorn Festival.

  10. tbhanks said,

    Pierre, I think wondering how we fit in and how we contribute is something all of us need to ask, not just white Afrikaans people. It’s something that’s most difficult to do though. It’s wondering how to get over that anger that white Afrikaans people have to deal with.

  11. Nikita said,

    I guess if you read “kakduidelik” ‘s blog- and some other Afrikaans words in your writing on your blog…then you do speak Afrikaans too… 🙂

  12. tbhanks said,

    I do, sometimes, Nikita. But not often. Even though I fully understand it I don’t feel comfortable speaking it because my thoughts are in English and I’m not as articulate in afrikaans as I am in english.

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