The Liberation of Afrikaans

One of the people I was excited to meet during my short World Cup trip to South Africa, was filmmaker Dylan Valley (rapper Lee Ursus introduced us). I was hoping to talk more to Dylan about his work, but football took precedence. Anyway Dylan has a new film out, “Afrikaaps,” on the neglected roots of the Afrikaans language (to the mainstream at least). Though the majority of Afrikaans speakers are not white, for most observers the language is synonymous with colonialism, Apartheid and white racism. And you can’t blame them. Afrikaner Nationalists and its allied media, cultural organizations, publishing industry, universities, school systems, etc., downplayed and degraded the fact that Afrikaans is a creole language since it was odds with their political project of racial purity and white domination. Postapartheid, some Afrikaners still hold on this exclusive vision. Valley’s film, which breaks with this history (btw, he is not the first), documents the similarly named stage production, “Afrikaaps,” which played festivals and earlier this year had a run at a leading Cape Town theater (here‘s a link to a review of the stage production and some rehearsal video). The stage production revolved around the a group of Cape Town-based artists, amongst them Jitsvinger, Bliksemstraal, Blaq Pearl, Emile YX, and Kyle Shepherd.

The result–a feature-length documentary–will premiere at this year’s Encounters International Documentary Film Festival in Cape Town and Johannesburg later this month (see the link for the schedule).

* My plan is to eventually interview director Dylan Valley once I have seen the film. I’ll keep AIAC readers updated.

Sean Jacobs

Sean Jacobs

Sean Jacobs is the Founder and Editor of Africa is a Country. He is on faculty of The New School in New York.


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