A Book of South African Verse

A Book of South African Verse

A Book of South African Verse

A Book of South African Verse

Excerpt

There are slightly over one million English-speaking people in South Africa, scattered over some five hundred thousand square miles. They share this area with a million and a half Afrikaans-speaking compatriots, a million Coloureds and Asiatics, and perhaps ten million Africans. Their poetry, then, is likely to be different from that of other dominions where English has become the only or the dominant language. It is the poetry of a linguistic, political, and cultural minority. In some of her moods the African muse is more fluent in Afrikaans than in English; in certain others she may prefer any one of a dozen African tongues, or the hot, new argot of the townships. Differences of belief and aspiration, as well as speech, have encouraged an intellectual apartheid between these groups. Each has developed along its own lines, suspicious and often tragically ignorant of the others. It should, therefore, be remembered that this volume is devoted to only one of three strands.

The Settlers of 1820 were placed on the frontier between the Dutch pastoralists and the African tribesmen, and, metaphorically speaking, that is where we still are: in the middle. Our small numbers and exposed position have prevented us from developing as strong a national sense as our cousins in other dominions. We speak a form of English which, I believe, shows fewer differences from standard English. Perhaps the sometimes strident anti-British cries of our Afrikaans fellowcountrymen have inclined us to defend inherited ways rather than to develop independent attitudes towards the land of our forefathers. Whatever the causes, the fact remains that,

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