Posts filed under ‘Identity’

But what good came of it at last? 36 years after “The Yellow Train”

By Roon Lewald

 Hansina Oktulseja, the young Moluccan train hijacker who diedAs 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…)


July 17, 2011 at 6:12 am 3 comments

Coming Strongly

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…)

October 19, 2010 at 6:49 am 1 comment

Bishop Margot Käßmann: A lesson on dealing with personal guilt

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…)

April 3, 2010 at 6:01 am 3 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

Afro-pessimism: Robert Mugabe

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…)

December 16, 2008 at 3:56 am Leave a comment

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

Bishop Jefferts Schori on Zimbabwe

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…)

May 7, 2008 at 9:49 pm Leave a comment

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