Posts filed under ‘Afrikaans’

Die „Saga der Van Pletsens“

Chronik der Familie Van Pletsen von Helen Lewald, geb. van Pletsen*

[Aus der Originalsprache Afrikaans ins Deutsche übersetzt und kommentiert von ihrem Sohn, Roon Lewald]

Helen and Albrecht in their Berlin student years

Helen and Albrecht in their Berlin student years


Nachdem meine Mutter im Jahre 1974 in Pretoria die Chronik ihrer Familie handschriftlich verfasst hatte, wurde das von einem Vetter säuberlich getippte Manuskript von ihrer Verwandtschaft als einzig bekannte Ahnengeschichte dieser in Südafrika weit verzweigten, burischen Sippe mit großem Interesse begrüßt. Sozusagen im Samisdat-Verfahren ging die 9-seitige Chronik von Hand zu Hand und tauchte bald auch bei Stammesmitgliedern auf, von deren Existenz nicht einmal sie in ihren eifrigen Recherchen erfahren  hatte. (more…)


August 13, 2011 at 2:19 am 1 comment

Tales from Twente: When is a Steak a Steak?

By Dina Ann Boessenkool

You know you live in the Netherlands when people don’t know what rump steak is!  Or sirloin steak, for that matter.

When we first came to live in Almelo, I was quite bewildered by the meat counters in the Dutch supermarkets.  Yes, it was meat, but what kind of meat?  A roundish blob of packaged meat labelled “steak” didn’t tell me much.  So, with high hopes, I used to read the cooking instructions on the back. And ended up with something resembling leather.

Then I discovered frozen imported “rump steak” at the Aldi and Lidl supermarkets.  It had the texture of rump steak, only the pieces were quite small.  I  can recognise and buy fillet steak, known as ossenhaas or tournedos, as well as  ribeye steak and entrecote steak – and that’s where it ends. (more…)

December 29, 2010 at 5:02 am Leave a comment

Advent: Time for Sowing

By Roon Lewald

Funeral Dirt

Funeral Dirt

It’s the first of the four Advent Sundays, when folks here in Germany light the first of four candles on their Advent fir-branch wreaths and get into the pre-Christmas spirit. Even agnostics can’t help reflecting on the meaning of it all on a quiet Sunday evening when Christmas-minded people take a short break from their gift-shopping labours before plunging back into the seasonal shopping rush again on Monday (illuminations are already up and Christmas markets are booming in the city centers, and Germans are again spending this year as if the recession never happened.)  With new terror scares vying with the global economic crisis for attention, the news is so depressing nowadays it’s hard to believe that there’s any room left in the world for the human love, friendship and compassion we hear so much about at Christmastime. I can only draw comfort from the knowledge that many people like myself are at least linked to other individuals by such bonds.

In this mood, I was reminded of a short story by a South African author named Charles Bosman. (more…)

December 6, 2010 at 3:18 am 2 comments

What’s in a Song?

By Roon Lewald

Mimi CoertzeWhat’s in a song?  Oh, many things, many many memories, as I discovered when I surfed the Worldwide Web on a sudden sentimental impulse, looking for the half-forgotten words of the poem for which composer S. le Roux Marais wrote the music of probably the most beautiful Afrikaans art song I know.  I searchtagged “My hart verlang na die stilte” and immediately found the text of S.L.R. Bruggen’s poem “Heimwee” (Longing, or Homesickness). Not only that, but a link on the same page took me straight to South African singer Mimi Coertse’s homepage

I clicked “Heimwee” and found myself listening for the first time in 50 years to the recording of the song she made in 1956.  That was the year when Mimi, fresh from triumphs “overseas” (magical word to post-colonial South Africans in those days!), toured South Africa to wow her countryfolk as South Africa’s first internationally acclaimed classical singer. (more…)

May 22, 2010 at 2:27 am 10 comments

On Afrikaans

Taal Monument

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…)

May 2, 2009 at 1:43 pm 8 comments

Leipoldt: The Universal Afrikaner

by Roon Lewald

Louis Leipoldt

Louis Leipoldt

In one of my latest visits to the blog of an American friend, I was intrigued by a sensitive description of her visit to the remote grave of Afrikaans poet C. Louis Leipoldt, sheltered by an overhanging ledge of sandstone at Pakhuis (Storehouse) Pass in the rugged Cedarberg mountains some 200 miles north of Cape Town.

Christian Frederik Louis Leipoldt (1880-1947) is revered by Africa’s only white tribe as one of its finest poets. He was a leading luminary of the “Second Movement”, the generation of language pioneers which produced the first poems of genuine literary value in Afrikaans immediately after the 1899-1902 Anglo-Boer War. His name is hardly known outside an estimated 10 million or so native speakers spread over South Africa and the now rapidly expanding diaspora of Afrikaner emigrants to the USA, Europe, Australasia and elsewhere. But blog hostess Jenny Bennett has such wide interests that I wasn’t too surprised by her tribute to such an exotic poet. (more…)

May 2, 2009 at 2:30 am 3 comments

Die Van Pletsen Saga

Click for English

Klik vir genealogie


Deur haar seun, Roon Lewald

Toeval? Bestemming? Nee, net weer ‘n bewys dat die Internet alles weet. Nadat my moeder in 1974 haar handgeskrewe familiegeskiedenis voltooi en ‘n hulpvaardige neef dit mooi netjies vir haar oorgetik het, moes fotokopiëe daarvan soos die bybelse wonder van die visse en brode vermenigvuldig het. Want dit het gretige lesers orals in die Van Pletsen-wêreld gevind, siende dat dit blykbaar die enigste bekende kroniek van my oorlede ma se wydverbreide familie is.

Roon Lewald

Roon Lewald

Nogtans kon ek amper nie my oë glo toe ek in 2008, amper 30 jare na haar dood, toevallig in die Internet op hierdie einste Amerikaanse blog geland en heel bo ‘n sorgvuldige afkskrif van Ma se “Saga” – nogal in Afrikaans met ‘n Engelse vertaling! – ontdek het. Ek het die redaksie in New York dadelik vanaf my huidige woonplek in Bonn, Duitsland gebel en vasgestel dat redakteur Blane van Pletzen-Rands ‘n vérlangse neef en nes ek ‘n emigrant is. As sulks het hy gedurende ‘n besoek by familie in SA ‘n kopie van die manuskrip in die hande gekry. En dis hoekom my ma se Saga nou ‘n ereplek gevind het in ‘n blog wat gedeeltelik geskep is as ‘n virtuele kuierplek vir diegene wat belangstel in die Van Pletsens (oftewel Van Pletzens, soos sommige takke van die familie dit spel).   (more…)

July 5, 2008 at 9:20 am 24 comments

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