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Tydskrif vir Geesteswetenskappe

On-line version ISSN 2224-7912
Print version ISSN 0041-4751

Tydskr. geesteswet. vol.48 n.1 Pretoria  2008


"Onze strijd, onze heldendood...": Kreatiewe verwerking van patriotiese stof uit Celliers se oorlogsdagboek in Winterbach se Niggie


"Our struggle, our heroic death...": A Creative reworking of patriotic material from Celliers' war diary in Ingrid Winterbach's Niggie"



Marisa Botha; Helize van Vuuren

Departement Afrikaans & Nederlands, Tale en Letterkunde, Nelson Mandela Metropolitaanse Universiteit, Port Elizabeth




This article focuses on the Oorlogsdagboek van Jan F.E. Celliers, 1899-1902 [War Diary of Jan F.E. Celliers, 1899-1902] (1978) and how it is creatively reworked and adapted in Ingrid Winterbach 's (Lettie Viljoen) Niggie [Cousin] (2002). The Anglo-Boer War has been a recurring theme in Winterbach 's (Viljoen 's) oeuvre as can be seen in novels such as Belemmering [Impediment], Karolina Ferreira and Buller se plan [Buller 's Plan]. She is one of many writers who made extensive use of this material in her oeuvre,. There was an overwhelming increase in the publication and re-publication of such novels and war diaries during the centenary anniversary of this historic war. Winterbach's Niggie was awarded the Hertzog prize in 2004.
It will be shown that this novel is in fact not a superficial reworking of an age old theme, but that it is cleverly layered with commentary on the past, its people and government as well as commentary on these facets in the present, and to a certain extent a possible future for this country and its people. She uses the technique of intertextuality (Bakhtin and Kristeva, 1969) with great literary effect. This theory rests on the principle that all texts are to some extent interconnected. Nothing stands completely alone. There are references between texts created either consciously or unconsciously by authors. In a broader sense it can be said that all aspects of life, society, politics, economics, art and so forth, impact on each other and the world we live in. Winterbach uses the poet Celliers' war diary to draw parallels between the past and the present. She adapts actual historic views, problems, social and political circumstances in her novel and even succeeds in creating a character, Japie Stilgemoed, based on Celliers as seen through his eyes in his diary during almost the full length of the war. Topics to be discussed include patriotism, the role of religion, discipline, passivity and boredom during the Anglo-Boer War. Patriotism was fuelled not only by the prospect of defending one's country, but to a great extent also by the effects of the scorched earth policy on the nature of warfare and the innocent people involved. The scorched earth policy was also the direct cause for the increase in concentration camps which led to thousands of deaths, especially of women and children. It will be shown how religion played an important role in sustaining the commando's during the three years of the war, by carefully chosen texts from the Old Testament. Discipline was difficult to maintain during the war as the commando's were in fact free men and not trained soldiers. The lack of discipline was also a result of the boredom and passivity of the commando's during the war. Interestingly enough, the Anglo-Boer War (through the eyes of Celliers) was not a glorious experience with great battlefields, but rather for the most part the unnecessary loss of human life. There were, however, a few people who were seen as heroes after the war and these heroes went on to build a republic with nationalist views through the shared grief and pain of those who lived and died in this tragic war. The anomaly of such a novel in 2002 seemingly dwelling on the past is clearly shown to be a metaphor for the present and its dilemmas, reflecting the social conflicts existing at present in the crumbling Afrikaans community.


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1 Daar is ook 'n artikel oor die intertekstualiteit tussen Winterbach se Niggie en Celliers se oorlogsdagboek voorgelê aan Journal of Literary Studies/Tydskrif vir literatuurwetenskap. Alhoewel hierdie twee artikels dieselfde onderwerp het, word verskillende aspekte in hulle bespreek. Die JLS/TLW artikel fokus hoofsaaklik op die intervensie, wetenskaplike, ideologiese en "naturellekwessie" debatte in Niggie, terwyl hierdie artikel op die breër aspekte van die Anglo-Boereoorlog fokus soos patriotisme, godsdiens, dissipline en passiwiteit van kommandolede en hoe dit in Niggie neerslag vind.
2Niggie (2002) is vol godsdiensverwysings: 34, 45-47, 54, 55, 75, 77, 115, 124, 130-132, 135, 139, 141, 142, 144-150, 158-160, 168, 171, 177-183, 186, 187, 189, 199, 200, 203, 207-209, 213, 214, 217, 218, 221, 222, 225-227, 229-233, 237, 238, 245, 246, 249.
3 Dié raspejoratief is heeltemal onaanvaarbaar, maar alle aanhalings kom voor soos hulle in Celliers se dagboek verskyn, met die doel om 'n akkurate beeld van die geskiedenis te weerspieël. In hierdie opsig verwys Celliers na die feit dat swartmense nie luukse wonings gehad het nie en slegs met die minimum geriewe moes klaarkom.
4 Ons gebruik in hierdie artikel die Engelstalige teks, omdat die oorspronklike Afrikaanse teks nie tot ons beskikking was nie, en 'n uiters skaars versamelaarsitem is.
5 Prof. F.A. van Jaarsveld (1992) noem F.W. Reitz as die outeur en Ena Jansen (1998), alhoewel sy die teks as "anoniem" in haar bibliografie inskryf, dig sy dit toe aan J.C. Smuts as die waarskynlike outeur. Nóg Van Jaarsveld nóg Jansen noem egter 'n uitgewer, maar albei stem saam dat die pamflet in 1899 gedruk is. Pretorius is duidelik oor die outeurskap, maar noem dat die pamflet eers in 1900 gepubliseer is.



Helize van Vuuren is professor in Afrikaans & Nederlands en departementshoof van Tale en Letterkunde aan die Nelson Mandela Metropolitaanse Universiteit in Port Elizabeth. Sy is outeur van Tristia in perspektief (1989) en mede-redakteur, saam met Willie Burger van Sluiswagter by die dam van stemme: Beskouings oor die werk van Karel Schoeman (2002).
Helize van Vuuren is professor and head of department in Languages and Literature at the Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University in Port Elizabeth. She is the author of Tristia in perspektief [Tristia in Perspective] (1989) and co-editor with Willie Burger of Sluiswagter by die dam van stemme: Beskouings oor die werk van Karel Schoeman ["Lock-keeper at the Dam of Voices: Reflections on the Work of Karel Schoeman"] (2002).
Marisa Botha doen tans aan die Nelson Mandela Metropolitaanse Universiteit in Port Elizabeth doktorale navorsing oor die outobiografiese kode in Antjie Krog se oeuvre. Sy het in 2006 'n MA voltooi oor "Eksperiment en intertekstualiteit: 'n Studie van Ingrid Winterbach se Niggie (2002) en die Oorlogsdagboek van Jan F.E. Celliers 1899-1902 (1978), asook ander Anglo-Boereoorlog tekste", en talle artikels oor hierdie roman die lig laat sien. Vroeër het sy ook vergelykende werk gepubliseer oor die inheemse en die Europese sprokieskat.
Marisa Botha is currently doing doctoral research on the autobiographical code in Antjie Krog's oeuvre at the Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University. In 2006 she completed her Masters degree with a dissertation entitled "Eksperiment en intertekstualiteit: 'n Studie van Ingrid Winterbach se Niggie (2002) en die Oorlogsdagboek van Jan F.E. Celliers 1899-1902 (1978), asook ander Anglo-Boereoorlog tekste" ["Experiment and Intertextuality: A Study of Ingrid Winterbach's Niggie [Cousin](2002) and the War Diary of Jan F.E. Celliers 1899 - 1902 (1978), as well as other Anglo-Boer War Texts"]. She has published numerous articles stemming from this research. Prior to these articles she also did comparative work on indigenous San and European fairy tales.