AS a child of about nine, then living on a dairy farm near Grasmere, south of Johannesburg, I read in the newspapers about Des and Dawn Lindberg marrying naked on a beach. It made me giggle like a little garden fairy. Sies!
Couldn't imagine such a thing.
But it was the heyday of the hippies and they also often roared past our old Chrysler on weekends on motorcycles with flowing hair and strange clothes on their way to sessions in farm sheds.
Then you should have heard my Dad. Because he had three daughters between the ages 16 and 24. And my Dad believed that the hippies were mostly run-of-the-mill city Jews from the regions of Wits and wealthy areas. Jewish paradises. Houghton and such. My Dad knew Jaansberg well.
Anyway, I was crazy about Des & Dawn's GeZoemvaniBye & iLekketurksvye.
Boer-Jews, my Dad then told me when the song was playing over the wireless. Farmer-Jews like uncle Koert who had the red corrugated iron shop on Lawley. At the station where we loaded and unloaded cattle on trains. I think it was 1968.
My Dad liked the Jews' work ethic and family care. He talked about it at the dinner table over melkkos. Our farm, St Petrocks, like many farms around Johannesburg at the time, was owned or managed by Boer-Jews. My Dad was foreman. A neat man. The owner was Mr Grünebaum. Uncle Boompie. A short uncle with shiny brown eyes.
In my mid-20s, I used to visit Des and Dawn's house in Houghton or Saxonwold, thereabouts, for soirées that offered evenings with guitar and piano and food. Unusual people and customs, and their warmth and pleasure in music and food and stories was infectious. Finely orchestrated rituals.
They also sent invitations to the receptions not only with printed tickets but with a packet of biltong, a jar of jam and some of the first CDs that were printed here.
Over the years, Boer-Jews would often figure strongly in my life precisely because they have so much appreciation for Afrikaans as a language and culture. Often more than Boers themselves, they also find incredible pleasure in thoroughly structured cultural evenings. Yes.
They supported my Rockspider's Opera in Green Point and Sea Point even more than my own Boer people, and with great satisfaction translated the menus and puppet show satire to their children from abroad. And when they came to visit, they did want to see a new puppet show but always the older ones too, like groupies who want to listen to their favourite band's songs again.
Today it is still a privilege to be able to hang out with Boer-Jews here in Tulbagh. From the Cape. From the Paarl. From Oz and America and elsewhere. They come to buy art. They support musicians. They listen to lyrics and can read symbolism for what it is and not as evil threats from the occult. They can venture beyond their own boundaries while respecting the views of others. At least, that's how I experience it in this country. How it works elsewhere, I don't know.
They are also painters, creators who continue to develop the unusual mixture of Jewish and African culture, to this day, poets, writers, cooks — people who regularly make a happy ritual of togetherness, of food, guitar, piano, violin and finely honed humour. And it is at the level of humour that one can measure another's true sophistication. It sparkles with amiable malice. Their angle of satire. The fine line of the joke. The knowledge of humanity that is the foundation of laughter.
In the old days of Graaff's Pool in Sea Point, where only men could swim naked behind a high white rampart wall on a cement slab on the rocky beach, one relaxing side was occupied by naked artists such as ballet dancers, actors, flower arrangers, rent boys and chefs, the other by straight, old Jewish men with potbellies, thick glasses and thick newspapers — and they discussed politics and money in proper Afrikaans.
♦ VWB ♦
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