Spitting Fire in South Africa

Bravo to you South Africa. Thank you always for being a life source.

Not Our Leguaan

I am an Afrikaans writer. I write in a language that is Dutch but not Dutch, European but not European, African but not African–even though it is the only language named after this (or any other) continent. I write in a language that has little to do with tulips, windmills, or silly snowmen with carrot noses, a language honed to denote Africa in all its harshness, cruelty, and beauty. “Aardvark,” “veld,” and “wildebeest”–these are the words that Afrikaans has given to the world. As is “trek,” of course: to migrate, to get going, to yield to the fever of the horizon. Yes, in the language of the Enterprise, to boldly go where no man has gone before. I write in Afrikaans, a language of wanderers and migrants, of “trekkers,” who trekked rather than submit to British rule, who trekked again when the British occupied Natal in turn, who kept on doggedly trekking as the Free State and Transvaal and all the other dreams fell to the juggernaut of Empire. And finally, just when the smoke of war was clearing, just when it seemed that things were finally looking up, just when it seemed that there would be no need of further trekking, these migrants, these god-fearing people who had given the world “Boer” and “spoor” and “commando” and “puff adder,” embarked on their final and most ambitious journey. Inventing the word “apartheid,” they proceeded to trek away from sanity and even from reality itself.

Thomas Dreyer, translated from the Afrikaans


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