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Tydskrif vir Geesteswetenskappe

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

Tydskr. geesteswet. vol.49 n.4 Pretoria  2009


Vrouejeugboekskrywers oor die Anglo-Boereoorlog: Realisme en versoening na dekades van avontuur en nasionalisme


Women authors of youth fiction on the Anglo-Boer War: Realism and reconciliation after decades of adventure and nationalism



Thomas van der WaltI; Marietha NiemanII

IDepartement Inligtingkunde, Unisa
IIDepartement Opvoedkunde, Unisa, E-pos:




Die Anglo-Boereoorlog het 'n baie belangrike invloed op die geskiedenis van die Afrikaner gehad en is as tema ook goed verteenwoordig in die Afrikaanse literatuur vir volwassenes. Aan die ander kant het daar relatief min jeugboeke met hierdie oorlog as tema verskyn. Die moontlikhede wat dié oorlog, waaraan soveel kinders aktief deelgeneem het, aan outeurs gebied het, is nie in die Afrikaanse kinder- en jeugliteratuur ontgin nie. Die vlaag nuwe boeke vir volwassenes wat met die honderdjarige herdenking van die oorlog aan die einde van die eeu in Afrikaans verskyn het, het nie in die kinder- en jeugliteratuur gemanifesteer nie. Géén nuwe Afrikaanse kinder- en jeugboeke met hierdie oorlog as tema het na 1990 verskyn nie. Afrikaanse kinders en jongmense het dus nie die voordele geniet wat sulke boeke dikwels vir volwassenes gehad het nie, naamlik waarheid, versoening en die herskepping van die individuele en die kollektiewe.
Word die kinder- en jeugboeke wat in die 1980's oor die oorlog verskyn het, van nader beskou, blyk dit dat hierdie boeke aansienlik verskil van die boeke met die oorlog as tema wat voor hierdie tyd gepubliseer is. Dit is opvallend dat hierdie verandering saamval met die tyd toe vroueskrywers vir die eerste keer oor die oorlog begin skryf het. Voor 1980 is Afrikaanse kinderen jeugboeke oor die oorlog op twee na deur mans geskryf. In hierdie artikel word die veranderinge (soos die uitbeelding van karakters, pogings tot versoening, ens.) wat vroueskrywers teweeggebring het, bespreek. Dit word gedoen aan die hand van 'n aanvanklike vergelyking van die Afrikaanse kinder- enjeugliteratuur wat in verskillende tydperke oor die oorlog geskryf is, met Suid-Afrikaanse fiksie vir volwassenes soos in 1998 deur Eduan Swanepoel in 'n artikel in Stilet bespreek is.

Trefwoorde: Anglo-Boereoorlog; oorlog; jeugliteratuur; vroueskrywers; verandering; vrouekarakters; versoening; swart-witverhoudings


The Anglo-Boer War has been a very important influence in the history of the Afrikaners, and is well represented as a theme in Afrikaans literature for adults. However, so far relatively few books for young people have appeared with the war as their theme. The potential of this war, in which so many children were active participants, has not been realised properly by authors of Afrikaans children's and youth literature. The wave of new books for adults which appeared in Afrikaans during the centenary of the war at the end of the 20th century did not reach children's and youth literature. No new children's or youth books with the war as theme have appeared after 1990. The role often played by such books for adults - finding the truth, achieving reconciliation and recreating both individuals and the collective - was therefore not available by way of Afrikaans children's and youth literature.
In this article five Afrikaans youth books with the Anglo-Boer war as theme that were published between 1985 and 1990 were analysed. These books include Gezina en die bruin wind by Maretha Maartens (1985), Helena in die tyd van die tente by Franci Greyling (1986), Dirkie, Drieka, Frederika by Franci Greyling (1988), Wynand se oorlog by Ria Jordaan (1989) and Eendag was daar 'n oorlog by Heléne le Roux (1990). All these books were written by female authors.
If we look more closely at the children's and youth books on the war which appeared in the 1980s, it is evident that they differ considerably from the ones which had been published prior to this. Books on the war before the 1980s can mainly be described as adventure stories against a background of the war. These books have a powerful nationalistic and patriotic message. On the other hand, youth literature appearing in the 1980s is characterised by depictions of female characters' experiences of the war. These female characters are depicted as strong, resolute and undaunted women. The books also reveal a more realistic view ofwar and the meaning of heroism. The emphasis is on the characters' inner growth and the insights which they gain from the war. There is also a clear difference in the depiction of the enemy, while attempts at reconciliation are touched upon without falling into the trap of didacticism. Relations between white and black are depicted with due regard for the altered sociopolitical situation in South Africa during the 1980s, and for the first time the suffering of black people in the war is touched upon. This change coincides with the first contributions of women writers to literature on the war. Before 1980, Afrikaans children's and youth books on the war were with two exceptions written by men.
This article discusses the changes introduced by women writers on the Anglo-Boer War. It initially compares the children's andyouth literature on this topic in Afrikaans with South African adult fiction as discussed by Eduan Swanepoel in 1998. Swanepoel identifies in an article in Stilet, five periods ofwhich the first extends from 1902-1910 and is characterised by personal accounts. The second period, 1910-1934, features memoirs with an additional element of fiction. Literature which appeared during the third period, between 1934 and 1948, is overwhelmingly propagandist. After a period featuring trivial popular novels replete with anti-English sentiments (1948-1980), we have the postmodern or postcolonial phase, characterised by a reversal of ideological and political sentiments. As far as Afrikaans youth literature is concerned, the first two phases do not for practical purposes exist. The next two phases identified by Swanepoel can be combined in Afrikaans youth literature. Most of the youth books which appeared during that time were written by Mikro. The postmodern or postcolonial period can be identified in youth literature about the war written by female authors.

Key concepts: Anglo-Boer War; war; youth literature; women writers; change; female characters; reconciliation; black-white relations



Full text available only in PDF format.



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Thomas van der Walt is medeprofessor in die Departement Inligtingkunde en voorsitter van die Eenheid vir Navorsing in Kinderliteratuur aan Unisa. Hy is die president van die African Research Society for Children's Literature en het vir drie termyne gedien as raadslid van die internasionale Research Society for Children's literature. Hy is 'n stigters- en raadslid van Biblionef Suid-Afrika, 'n organisasie wat kinderboeke aan behoeftige kinders in Suid-Afrika versprei. Verskeie artikels oor jeugliteratuur deur prof Van der Walt het in sowel nasionale as internasionale vakwetenskaplike en populêre tydskrifte verskyn. Hy het ook 'n aantal hoofstukke in boeke bygedra en was die redakteur van twee boeke.

Thomas van der Walt is an associate professor in the Department of Information Science at Unisa and the chairperson of the Children's Literature Research Unit at Unisa. He is the president of the African Research Society for Children's Literature and for three terms served as a council member of the international Research Society for Children's Literature. He is a founder as well as a council member of Biblionef South Africa, an organisation that distributes children's books to needy children in South Africa. Professor Van der Walt has published several articles on youth literature in both national and international specialist and popular journals. He contributed towards a number of chapters in books and was also the editor of two books.

Marietha Nieman is medeprofessor in die Departement Opvoedkunde aan Unisa. Sy is verantwoordelik vir die opleiding van taalonder-wysers en is die programbestuurder vir die Nagraadse Diploma in Volwasseneonderwys. Sy het 'n wye belangstellingsveld wat onderwerpe soos assessering, die neem van 'n wegbreekjaar en die problematiek van tweedetaalonderrig insluit. Haar belangstelling in jeugliteratuur het ontstaan toe sy haar verhandeling vir 'n meestersgraad in Afrikaans oor die uitbeelding van vrouekarakters in die jeugliteratuur gedoen het.

Marietha Nieman is an associate professor in the Department of Educational Studies at Unisa. She is responsible for the training of language teachers and is the programme manager for the Postgraduate Diploma in Adult Education. Her broad spectrum of interests includes topics such as assessment, taking a gap year and the issue of second-language tuition. Her interest in youth literature was triggered by a dissertation on the portrayal of female characters in youth literature for her master's degree in Afrikaans.

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