Posts filed under ‘Boere’

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

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

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


In memory of my sister, Deanne Seneschal Raszat, née Lewald, born 31 Jan. 1940 in Durban, South Africa; died 26 Sept. 1996 in Leimen-Gauangelloch, Germany

By Roon Lewald



After cancer won a five-year battle for my elder sister’s life, my brother-in-law sent me a parcel of old studio recordings of Deanne’s singing recitals made by the South African Broadcasting Corporation (SABC/SAUK) between 1953 and 1958. Apart from a pile of yellowed newspaper clips and eistedfodd certificates, they were all that remained of the years when my mother’s coaching of Deanne’s voice propelled her into brief local prominence as a promising young singer. My dutiful elder sister had already been slaving away at her piano lessons for nearly five years when, at the age of 10, our Ma yoked her girlish lyrical soprano too into the musical harness of our parents, both of them singing teachers. At the age of 13, she piped German Lieder and Afrikaans liedjies into an SABC mike for the first time and was introduced on the nationwide “Young South Africa” programme as a young singer with a great future.


April 22, 2009 at 11:42 pm 12 comments

Die Nag van die Vlieënde Miere

GeckosDeur ‘n onbekende skrywer

In English

“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…)

May 21, 2008 at 8:17 am 1 comment

Helen van Pletsen – the Nightingale of Natal

Roon LewaldBy Roon Lewald, son of Helen van Pletsen, author of “The Van Pletsen Saga

In a personal twist to the old show-biz saying that “you haffta be Jewish”, my Afrikaner mother had a stock diagnosis of people she considered too humourless to appreciate the funny side of life. Irritated by an encounter with some particularly dour, self-righteous grudge-bearer, she would shrug and say: “His / her problem is a lack of irony in the blood.” (more…)

March 16, 2008 at 11:13 pm 11 comments


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