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12 december 2011: lezing Heike Becker

Plaats: Meertens Insituut
Tijd: 15.45 – 17.30


Lecture and documentary by

Prof. dr. Heike Becker (University of the Western Cape)

Reproclamation of Afrikaans: Afrikaaps , everyday performance and discourses of being from the Cape Flats, South Africa

Time: Monday December 12; 15.45 – 17.30 (drinks after)

Place: Meertens Instituut

This lecture by Heike Becker presents the documentary ‘AFRIKAAPS’ by the Cape Town filmmaker Dylan Valley, to be followed by a discussion of fieldwork among young people from the Cape Flats. In Cape Town, the ‘Cape Flats’, where most of the city’s townships are located, occupy a special place. They are much more than a geographical space, but refer to a social and historical space, which is intimately connected to the local history of forced removals following the 1950s Group Areas Act, which shook up the social geography of Cape Town.

In AFRIKAAPS, Dylan Valley explores the untold Creole history of Afrikaans, focusing on the variety of the language spoken by mixed-race people (denominated ‘Coloureds’ in South African usage).

AFRIKAAPS, a hip-hop opera, was initially produced by a group of Capetonian musicians and spoken-word artists, using hip hop, humour and personal perspectives. The film follows this group of local artists creating the stage production, AFRIKAAPS, as they trace the roots of Afrikaans to slaves in the Cape. The film aims to ‘reclaim and liberate Afrikaans from its reputation as the language of the oppressor, taking it back for all who speak it.’

The lecture discusses the stage production and film against the perceptions of young people from the working class ‘coloured’ townships of the Cape Flats, who have entered middle-class life while reclaiming the ‘non-standard’ Afrikaans version known as ‘Kaaps’ as an acceptable language spoken in their professional and social environment. Historically, the usage of Kaaps resonates with a discourse of ‘shame and respectability’ which has been identified as one of the key defining factors of identity formation among middle-class Coloured people. Following the demise of Apartheid, debates about ‘coloured identity’ have become a prominent feature of public and popular culture in South Africa, especially in the country’s Western Cape province, where the majority of the population are people of mixed-race origin. Many coloured people have expressed a sense of marginality in the new dispensation, feeling that they occupy a midway position, not quite part of the still economically privileged ‘white’ elite population, and neither part of the beneficiaries of the “New” South Africa.

The film comes with English sub-titles and is 52 minutes long.

Please register with: Irene.Stengs@Meertens.Knaw.NL.

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