Eina! and Skande!

. . and then tragedy.

—– Original message from Etienne Joubert in 2014 —– (translation below)

Good morning all you Harrismith followers!

Who was Paul de Witt . . ??? . .  Skande gemaak vir Harrismith se mense.

KAAPSTAD – ’n Predikant en bekende restaurateur in Hentiesbaai is Maandag in die vroeë oggendure deur doeanebeamptes met sowat 11 400 witmossels en 20 kg calamari  in sy besit by die ­Vioolsdrift-grenspos vasgetrek.

Ds. Paul de Witt (63) het die twee spesies, wat albei beskerm word, sonder vervoerpermitte in sy Nissan X-Trail van Kaapstad na Hentiesbaai vervoer.

De Witt is omstreeks 01:30 deur die polisie voorgekeer en sy voertuig is deursoek. Verskeie sakke vol mossels met ’n geskatte waarde van R11 400, en ’n sak met 20 kg calamari is agter in sy voertuig gevind.

De Witt is deur die eenheid teen georganiseerde misdaad in hegtenis geneem en daar is beslag gelê op sy voertuig, sowel as die sakke seekos.

De Witt is ’n boorling van Harrismith.

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I immediately contacted my mate Steph de Witt:

Hey Steph
I vaguely remember a Paul de Witt. Who and what was he op Herries?
He got caught with his hand in the cookie jar!
Cheers
Koos

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On 2014/07/08 Steph de Witt replied:

Koos! Dis my bloedfamilie, my own cousin !!

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Me: Fokkit I can still live with the witmossel-steel part, but the DOMINEE part? THAT’s the skande!

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Translation:

Eina! and Skande! – ouch! and scandal!

A Harrismith old boy who became a preacherman was caught smuggling protected seafood – mussels and calamari – from South Africa into Namibia.

He was an interesting character: My sister remembers him as one of a gang of naughty / rude boys as a teenager. As does happen, he became a preacher. But as less often happens, a preacher who operated a pub. He sold salvation on Sundays and booze from Mondays to Saturdays! Like, “create your own sinners”.

His pub obviously needed seafood so he “fetched” some from across the border – illegally. And got caught.

Sadly, he died in a car wreck soon after!

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Subject: Paul de Witt

Hey Et

Steph has just informed me that Paul died in a car accident on Friday.

Dammitall. From sudden fame / notoriety to tragic end.

Yo ....that's sad, my condolences if you make contact again.
But we know he's gone to Paradise, where there's lots of white & black 
muscles & of course, calamari .........!!
Cheers
Et 
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paul de witt case
Vraagtekens oor kroegdominee se storie 

Wat Sê Jy?

or “scusi?

Quora asked this question recently: “How do you know when you are fluent in a language?”

I answered thus: My guess is usually you won’t really know. Native speakers are usually polite and will flatter you with a better assessment than is true. Maybe a better question to ask yourself is “When am I fluent enough?”

My guess? When you’re enjoying using it and not really thinking about it. I am fluent enough in Afrikaans and can happily hold any conversation with someone who only speaks that language. But even though I have spoken it since I was little, no native speaker would mistake me for a native Afrikaans speaker.

Confession: I laboured under the mistaken impression that I was completely fluent. No-one told me otherwise. Then at age fourteen I went to Namibia (South West Africa as it was) and visited third cousins I had never met before. Within two sentences one of them blurted out “Jis! Jy kan hoor jy’s ’n rooinek!” (Boy, You can hear you’re English-speaking!) and my bubble burst. I’m now amazed I was so deluded!

Another case in point: My 94-yr old Dad speaks “fluent Italian” which he learnt in Italy in WW2. I asked an Italian-born schoolfriend a few years ago “How well does the old man actually speak Eyetie?” and he said “Really well. Really”. Somehow I think that’s politeness. I mean, two years in Italy seventy years ago when he was already 22yrs-old – ?? How likely is that? But I have no way of telling, so I’m happy to go with Claudio’s assessment! Thanks, figlio!

Another: I often get complimented for speaking good Zulu. This is definitely not true and is just polite people’s way of saying “Thank you for trying to speak isiZulu to me”.

ngiyabonga

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South West Africa Tour

The Kestell bus was like a half-loaf, but still they couldn’t fill it so we Harrismithians had been invited along. Leon Crawley, Pikkie Loots, Pierre du Plessis, Tuffy Joubert and me, plus a few others joined the Kestell boys. It was R25 for fifteen days. We said YES! and our parents said yes, so we were off!

It was boys-only, a seunstoer, but Mnr Braam Venter of Kestell took his daughter along. She was about Std 4 we were Std 7 to 9. She was very popular and soon became like the tour mascot, second only to Wagter the tour dog – who was actually a found holey corobrick with a dog collar through one of its three holes and string for a leash.

The short bus had a longitudinal seating arrangement. Long rows running the length of the bus so you sat facing each other.

We all bundled in and set off. After a few hours we had the first roadside stop. Mnr Venter lined us all up outside the bus and said “Right, introduce yourselves”, as the Kestell ous didn’t know us – and we didn’t know them. Down the row came the names, van Tonder, van Wyk, van Niekerk, van Staden, van Aswegen, vanne Merwe, van Dit, van WhatWhat, Aasvoel, Kleine Asenvogel, Marble Hol. Fluffy standing next to me murmured “Steve McQueen” but when his turn came he let out with a clear “Leon Crawley” so I said “Steve McQueen” out loud. Without a blink the naming continued before I could say “Uh, just kidding” so I became “Ou Steve” for the duration.

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When we entered SWA we headed for a pub. Us fourteen to sixteen year-olds. Read about that here.  

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We went to the Fish River Canyon. Like all canyons, it was billed as the biggest, longest, deepest, whatever in the (insert your area or ‘world’ here). We stood on the rim and gazed down. Then Pikkie Loots and I couldn’t stand it; so – against orders – we zipped down the pathway, slipping and sliding down as fast as we could. Before we got to the bottom we decided we’d get into big kak if we took too long, so we reluctantly stopped and returned to the top, slowly.

We camped next to the Vingerklip, while it still stood (it fell down on 8 December 1988). About 30m high from the vlaktes at the base, the little neck it balanced on was only about 3m X 1,5m, making it rather precarious.

SWA_mukorobvingerklip-before-it-fell

Later we camped near Windhoek where my Dad had arranged that I got fetched by some of his relatives I had never met. Third or fourth cousins, I suppose. In the car on the way to their home they had lots of questions, but before I had finished my second sentence the one younger guy blurted out “Jis! Jy kan hoor jy’s ’n rooinek!” (Boy, You can hear you’re English-speaking!) and my bubble burst. All of my short life I had laboured under the mistaken impression that I was completely fluent in Afrikaans. No-one had told me otherwise.

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On to the Brandberg, where a long walk would take you to some rock paintings. I chose not to make the walk. Pikkie did, and said he remembered “the terrain as being barren, hot as hell, and rock strewn. The rocks had a rich red-brown colour, and I thought it was amazing that the local indigenous people had painted a white lady, which according to legend was the Queen of Sheba, who they would probably never have seen! Some people wanted to pour water on the paintings but I think Braam stopped them and of course today I realise that he was a hundred per cent right in not letting us do it. If we all poured water on it it would have been washed away by now!”

SWA_Brandberg

We got to Etosha National Park after dark so the Okakuejo gate was closed. We didn’t pitch our tents that night to save time, simply bedding down outside ready to drive in first thing the next morning. On spotting us the next morning the game ranger said Net hier het ‘n leeu eergistraand ‘n bok  neergetrek

On our way back, we passed Lake Otjikoto, the ‘bottomless lake’:

SWA_Otjikoto lake

SWA_Lake Otjikoto
cichlid fish, Tilapia guinasana

The Hoba meteorite next. Weighing about 60 tons, made of iron and nickel it is still the largest single intact meteorite known, and also the most massive naturally occurring piece of ferronickel known on Earth’s surface. Estimated to have fallen 80 000 years ago, it was discovered around 1920.

SWA_Hoba meteorite
This pic from July 1967, two years before we saw it

On the way out of SWA we reached the SouthWest corner of the country, heading for the border with the Kalahari Gemsbok Park, when we spotted something tangled up in the roadside fences. Turned out to be a few springbok, some dead, some still alive but badly injured. As we spotted them one of the farm boys yelled out Ek debs  die balsak!”. He cut off the scrotum, pulled it over the base of a glass cooldrink bottle. What? we asked. When it had dried he would break the glass and he’d have an ashtray, he explained. Oh.

The alive ones were dispatched and all were taken to the nearby farmer who gave us one for our trouble. It seems some hunters are indiscriminate and less than accurate and the buck panic before the onslaught and run into the fences.

SWA_springbok

That night we made a huge bonfire on the dry bed of the Nossob river or one of its tributaries and braai’d the springbok meat. It was freezing in July so we placed our sleeping bags around the fire and moved closer to the bed of coals all night long. Every time we woke we inched closer.

A wonderful star-filled night sky above us.

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seunstoer – boys tour;

Ek debs  die balsak! – ‘Dibs on the ballbag!’ (the antelope scrotum);

Net hier het ‘n leeu eergistraand ‘n bok neergetrek – Right here where you’re camping a lion killed an antelope the night before last;

 

Prohibition lifted, re-instated

The rumour on the Kestell bus was that in South West Africa the laws pertaining to grog did not actually, y’know, pertain. Specifically, the drinking age laws. You could order a beer in a pub in South West Africa even if you were only fourteen or fifteen, as we were. In fact, so the rumour went, it wasn’t a rumour, it was a fact.

We were on tour in the little Kestell bus. Kestell had been unable to fill it so they extended the invite to Harrismith se Hoer School: Who wants to join us on an adventure? R25 for 15 days! Pierre, Pikkie, Tuffy, Fluffy and I jumped at the chance, our folks said yes and we were off on a historic adventure which included a World-First in Kimberley on the way: The world’s first streak, Pierre and Tuffy giving their thighs a slapping as they raced kaalgat from the showers to our campsite in Kimberley’s Big Hole (or their caravan park anyway). Some historians think streaking started in California in 1973. Well, they weren’t in Kimberley in 1969, were they?

We crossed into Nirvana at the Onseepkans border post armed with our newfound legal knowledge and confidently entered the first licenced premise we found: The Karasburg Hotel. It was hot, the beer was cold and we were cool. We sat in the lounge and supped as though we had done this for YEARS.

We decided to order a refill while that friendly man who hadn’t batted an eyelid when we ordered our first round was still around. He had confirmed the now well-known fact that South West Africa was a bastion of good sense and sound liberal values. I got up to press the buzzer which would bring him back.

Unfortunately, the buzzer stuck and it buzzed too long, which must have annoyed the owner, as he came stomping into the lounge to see vuddafokgaanhieraan.

He looked at our short stature, our short pants and our tall beers in astonishment and demanded Wie is julle? and Waar’s julle onderwyser? and other seemingly pointless questions which were disrupting our peaceful ambience. He dispatched me to go and fetch our onderwyser forthwith and instructed the others to sit, stay.

But as he turned his back the rest of our gang disappeared after me, taking their beers with them. And like the good mates they were, they brought mine along too!

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kaalgat – no clothing; ‘as the day they were born’

vuddafokgaanhieraan – What’s up, gentlemen?

Wie is julle? and Waar’s julle onderwyser? – Time, gentlemen, please!

onderwyser – teacher