THE BOERS AT THE END OF THE WORLD
(BOERE OP DIE AARDSDREMPEL)
With the Dickason family, the Schlebusch family, the Blackie family, the Van Der Merwe family
Written & Directed by Richard Finn Gregory
[ I am quite familiar with this very interesting cultural phenomenon. My father Andre Blom was a broadcaster at the SABC here in South Africa, and created many acclaimed radio documentaries in the 1970s and -'80s (winning an Artes for one of his productions - our version of an Oscar back then). In 1979 they travelled to Argentina to meet up with and interview descendants of South Africans who settled there after the Anglo Boer War at the turn of the century in 1902, and still speak the Afrikaans language. This radio doc was called "Springbok Op Die Pampas" (Springbok On The Pampas) - referring to the Argentinian grasslands where these expatriates settled into very similar farming lives of sheep rearing, as their forefathers did and still do in our Karoo. ]
35 years after that radio production, this fascinating documentary takes that same trip across the Atlantic to look at this very unique culture from the Southern tip of Africa that got transported to South America over a century ago, a small pocket of the language and some traditions still alive (but it is on the verge of extinction).
The filmmakers focus on one of these families and its patriarch Ty Dickason, getting their perspective on the land in which they find themselves, and their hard daily life out in the arid land. But with most integrated into the Argentinian culture over the decades (including their children unable to speak Afrikaans), Ty and his older siblings and family feel a distant but strong link with Africa (a place they've never set foot, but feeling their roots are there).
Their Afrikaans is a more old-school, original version of the language, but still completely understandable. A South African linguist from a university in the USA also heads over to Argentina to study their language, its preservation and how it solidified the cultural elements they kept in tact (the small Afrikaans-linked get-togethers ever shrinking).
A further chapter is added to their journey (which seems like it will go extinct in the next decade) when the filmmakers bring Ty back to South Africa to meet distant family and take him to his ancestral farm and culturally significant locations.
An emotional documentary looking at identity, culture, family and a sense of belonging, with heartbreaking moments. However you cannot help but see the irony where one would feel the Afrikaans language must be preserved in that foreign land, while here in current South African situations certain groupings still see Afrikaans as the "language of the oppressor", wanting to remove it from Universities and other parts of society, in the country of its origin…
5 / B
- Paul Blom
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- A - B - C