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How to speak ‘suiwer Afrikaans’

   06 October 2017   l   Johnny Masilela    l   Views: 45   l   4 months ago  


My very own late dad was a Kleinfontein Farm School principal, outside the ol’ western Transvaal tobacco farmlands of Brits.

Dressed up in a pin-stripe suit, hat-to-the-side, Reuben Masilela was in the habit of slipping his wire-rimmed spectacles to the bridge of his nose, swishing the cane, and teaching learners how to speak and write “suiwer” Afrikaans.

“Broekskeur!” the principal declared to those who failed to memorise the lyrics of his favourite hymn, “Nader my God by U”.

Lo and behold, for Masilela was shaped by the NG Kerk, which covered his own high school education, and later the fees at teachers’ training college, hence the miniature “vierkleur” flag and a portrait of Dr H.F. Verwoerd in his office.

And oh, he was also a lay preacher at his favourite NG Kerk.

Just recently an Afrikaner lady in upmarket Pretoria East emailed me to say she remembered how my dad used to teach her own mother how to drive along the gravel roads of Kleinfontein.

This was a follow-up to a piece I wrote for a Sunday Afrikaans newspaper about similarities between Reuben and yesteryear teacher and storyteller, Herman Charles Bosman.

For the uninitiated, H.C. Bosman is a legend of Groot Marico and other farmlands on the slopes of the Dwarsberge.  

The next person who comes to mind is the former president of the Bophuthatswana Bantustan, Lucas Mangope.

Mangope was hated by militant youths for choosing to work with the Nationalist Government, at a time the likes of the late Nelson Mandela served time in prison for their rejection of Apartheid.

Talking of Mandela. The other day an Afrikaans grammar educator at high school gave us an assignment to write a letter to granny.

Out of downright provocation on my part, I signed my own letter under the name: N. Mandela.

The next day I found myself trembling in front of the principal and his staff, who dared me to explain why I chose to get them into big trouble with the Department of Bantu Education.

Broekskeur! Broekskeur!

  • Johnny Masilela’s is the editor of The Post’s sister newspaper, The Beat.




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