Posts filed under ‘Identity’
By Roon Lewald
As a young staffer of a U.S. news agency’s Bonn bureau in Germany 36 years ago, I was seconded to command the agency’s forward desk in the Dutch town of Assen during the final week of a sensational train hijacking by armed South Moluccan terrorists. In an autobiographical short story (see “The Yellow Train”) posted on this blog a few years ago, I described the lasting emotional impact on me of the events. (more…)
By Roon Lewald
“Frauen kommen langsam – aber gewaltig!” (women come slowly – but mighty strongly.) When this double-entendre refrain propelled feisty singer Ina Deter’s song about “strong women” to the top of the German charts in 1986, it documented the gradually accelerating, finally irresistible onslaught of women against the lofty bastions of male privilege. Just two decades years later, Chancellor Angela Merkel is firmly entrenched as the only female leader of a major western country and scores of other women have captured important seats of power and influence in many areas of German politics, business and society. (more…)
By Roon Lewald
Late one February night, a young German traffic cop spotted a black Phaeton luxury limousine turning right against the red light at an intersection near a night-life district in Hanover. Flagging the sleek vehicle to a stop, he confronted the woman driver, sniffed her breath and handed her his breathalyzer. The recorded blood alcohol level was around 1 %, well over the legal limit. A blood test at the local precinct registered a considerably higher value of 1.54 %, beyond the 1.5 % level at which motorists are legally considered incapable of driving.
On the following Monday, the mass-circulation Bild Zeitung tabloid broke the news that state attorneys were investigating a criminal charge of drunken driving against Margot Käßmann, the Lutheran Evangelical Church (EKD) state bishop of Lower Saxony and the first woman ever to become president of the governing council of Germany’s main Protestant church. (more…)
There is, for me, something remarkable about well-crafted Afrikaans prose. Her words are fertile; a faithful translation into English will often demand of a translator three words for each pregnant Afrikaans word. She remains, for this writer, a language that at once embraces and estranges her readers, for she is essentially tribal.
Any engelsprekende that has ever ventured into a conversation in Afrikaans with Afrikaners might know what I’m trying to place my finger on: his toungue immediately betrays him as an outsider; there is an awkward moment of sheer horror when conversation halts — and resumes — in English. There is little to no middle ground for those who speak Afrikaans as a second, third or foreign language. Our battered vocabulary and slaughtered syntax betray us immediately for the buitelanders that we are. It is our shiboleth. (more…)
By David Mpanga
“I will never, never, never, never surrender. Zimbabwe is mine, I am a Zimbabwean. Zimbabwe for Zimbabweans.” Robert Mugabe, December 2008.
If a white fiction writer had dreamt up the Zimbabwe-under-Mugabe plot, he would have been roundly condemned as an Afro-pessimist and a racist. But we have all seen that after ruining the Zimbabwean economy with misplaced policies, purportedly intended to emancipate the downtrodden black man, Mugabe “secured” an 85.51% “landslide victory” by beating his opponents into submission.
Having failed to declare official results for over a month when it looked like the great hero of the revolution was losing, the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission reclaimed its reputation for efficiency by counting all of the ballots and verifying the results of the presidential run-off election in one day. So it is back to business-as-usual in Zimbabwe. (more…)
“Ons het selfs tot aan die uur van ons dood die illusie dat ons onsself ken, wéét wat ons wíl…”
deur Roon Lewald
Hieronder verskyn die oorspronklike Afrikaanse manuskrip van die kortverhaal Die Nag van die Vlieënde Miere, waarvan my noodgewonge eienmagtige Engelse vertaling elders op hierdie blog verskyn. Ek wens dat die onbekende skrywer van hierdie pakkende, heel toevallig deur my tussen my oorlede suster Deanne Lewald se besittinge na haar dood gevonde storie daarvan te hore sal kom en sy eie kommentaar sal lewer daaroor. Intussen wens ek hom geluk met sy raak siening van intellektuele Afrikanerdom se sielewroeginge op die drumpel van rewolusionêre veranderinge in die ontstuimige 1980er jare. Hierdie laat publikasie daarvan, seker goed 20 jaar na die verhaal se ontstaan, is m.i. ‘n déja vu wat vandag nog – of miskien weer – groot aktualiteit besit. Sekerlik sou lesers graag meer wil weet oor die tyd en omstandighede van die verhaal se ontstaan, hoe die outeur vandag dink oor die werklikheid van die ou bedeling se destyds al onvermydelike einde, en hoe hy die huidige asook toekomstige rol en toestand van die Afrikaner en sy taal in (of buite) Suid-Afrika sien. (more…)
The Most Rev. Katharine Jefferts Schori, Presiding Bishop and Primate of The Episcopal Church, issued a statement May 6 on the political and humanitarian crisis in Zimbabwe. The full text of the Presiding Bishop’s original statement follows:
Together with millions of people around the world, my heart has been drawn in recent months to the political and humanitarian crisis unfolding in Zimbabwe. The tragedy of that nation’s descent into internal chaos is magnified by the high sense of purpose and prosperity that a newly independent Zimbabwe brought to Africa and the world nearly three decades ago. Sadly, Robert Mugabe’s government has undermined that promise beyond recognition with its systematic repression of human rights, democracy, and economic opportunity for the people of Zimbabwe. The turmoil in the wake of Zimbabwe’s recent elections signals an urgent need for governments and other leaders in the international community to stand in solidarity with the people of Zimbabwe, and call for an end to this long hour of human suffering and the beginning of a new era of promise and opportunity. (more…)
By Roon Lewald
1947 was a good time to be a white five-year-old in Durban. The beaches offered halcyon days beside the Indian Ocean. The Durban July turned the town into an exciting tourist mecca. The Bioscope was still the gateway to Hollywood’s dream factory of the world. In that stronghold of English speakers, blimpish super-patriots of Empire basked in the last rays of the setting Empire, and the 1947 Royal Visit whipped monarchist enthusiasms to fever pitch. “Our magnificent Zulu” were complacently thought to be quite content with white overlordship, and one of the few blots on white horizons was the rapid encroachment of increasingly prosperous Indian merchants on previously all-white shopping and residential areas. (more…)
Author unknown. c. 1986. Translation from the original Afrikaans manuscript by Roon Lewald.
“Right up to the hour of our death, we have the illusion that we know ourselves, that we know what we want . . .”
The sun is rising blood-red over the sea and the dagga (marijuana) sellers have not yet taken up their positions as we drive out of the city. As we turn off onto the Kwamashu road, about the only other traffic consists of rickety Putco busses and minibus taxis, over-filled with black faces. The whites, high up against the Berea, are still dazed with Saturday-morning weariness after waking up to Nescafé and “Goeie môre, Suid-Afrika!” – good morning, South Africa! Altus lights cigarettes for us as we try to work out how to tackle the Afrikaans tutorial for the black matriculants today. We have to do Ernst van Heerden’s “Die hardloper” (the runner) and the passive and active voices (I silently consider the irony that, in this country, the Afrikaans terms for these two grammatical expressions — “lydend” and “bedrywend” — literally mean “suffering” and “perpetrating”). (more…)
“We the youth of South Africa
Recognising the injustices of our past,
Honour those who suffered and sacrificed for justice and freedom.
We will respect and protect the dignity of each person,
And stand up for justice.
We sincerely declare that we shall uphold the rights and values of our Constitution
And promise to act in accordance with the duties and responsibilities
that flow from these rights.
! KE E: / XARRA // KE
Nkosi Sikelel’ iAfrika“
There is something unnerving about putting social ideals into words, especially when it’s about a country with a fairly fresh memory of an uneven and divided history. South Africa’s proposed Pledge of Allegiance, intended to be memorized and recited by millions of school children throughout the Republic, has caused a national debate over identity, inclusion and guilt. (more…)