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It was, lest we forget, the time of oppression. Afrikaans was the language of oppression. I didn't believe that the Afrikaans language had any reason to exist.

Then I heard Koos Kombuis's Niemandsland album, and all that changed. Such tender lyricism. Such play with language and history. Such defiant iconoclasm.

The name Koos Kombuis is a well-chosen psuedonym. Koos is an Afrikaans name, often used as the butt of jokes. Kombuis means kitchen, and is a reference to Kitchen-Dutch - see the Afrikaans node.

The alias P.F.P. van Wyk Louw is a play on the name of the poet N.P. van Wyk Louw, who was much beloved of the Afrikaaner establishment. The joke in the name is that N.P. also stands for National Party, i.e. the architects of Apartheid, and P.F.P. for Progressive Federal party, their liberal opposition.

This Afrikaans writer/singer was born Andrew le Roux de Toit. Most of his writing, which includes some brilliant short stories and poetry was written under the pseudonyms Andre leToit and P.F.P. van Wyk Louw. (Unluckily) he has not published many works since focussing on his singing career. He is the quintessential Afrikaans folk singer who is never far from his current love interest and/or bottle of cheap red wine. He is generally as politically incorrect as he can possibly be.

His albums include

  • Ver van die ou Kalahari (as Andre leToit)
  • Niemandsland and Beyond
  • Elke Boemelaar se Droom
  • Mona Lisa

(The surname "Kombuis" translates to kitchen, but I am not exactly sure what the significance, if any, of this is.)

Just to clarify: Koos lived in a friend of his' kitchen for about a year. Hence the name Koos Kombuis (kitchen). An interesting afterthought is that this friend of his was the recently deceased Johannes Kerkorrel.

Koos Kombuis, or Koos A. Kombuis, according to his Autobiography (giving acknowledgement to "André", which is how he refers to himself for much of the book), is an icon for a generation of Afrikaans South Africans who have moshed to the Springbok Nude Girls. He is also appreciated by many English South Africans who have moshed to the Springbok Nude Girls.

Koos, André or PFP, depending on which pseudonym by which you choose to refer to him, was not fortunate enough to belong to that generation. He was unfortunate enough to

  • be born during the height of the Apartheid Regime,
  • be born into a traditional Afrikaans family which may or may not have upheld the traditional Afrikaans family values. (He doesn't really discuss his family's politics in his autobiography, but does mention that his grandfather, Mr van Wyk Louw, wrote the HAT dictionary that sat on our Afrikaans teacher's desk when we were at school.)
  • not share the values that the Apartheid Regime enforced in South Africa at the time.

Fortunately for us, Koos or André or PFP was tough. Well, perhaps not tough enough, because he spent a year living in a mental institute during his early 20's. But he survived. And so did his opinions. And he shares them with us.

Despite proficiency in English and a distaste for the Apartheid Regime and the people who supported it (both Afrikaans and English speaking, but not all of the people who name either of those as their mother tongue), Koos Kombuis has remained loyal to his moedertaal. And it has won him the loyalty of the Afrikaans youth.

He has won the respect of Afrikaans and English speaking South Africans alike because of his wit, style, bravery, disregard for others' opinions of him and because the music he writes rocks!

Like Pieter Dirk Uys, another Afrikaner who did not agree with Apartheid when few would say so, who is also particularly talented and who is also gay and a transvestite (his creation Evita Bezuidenhout is the South African version of Dame Edna Everage), Koos Kombuis mentions politics whenever he can. And he makes you laugh at yourself and think about what you believe in.

Now might be the time to mention that PFP is not arbitrary. The PFP were the most leftist political party during the Apartheid Era. They were more moderate than the Apartheid advocists, but they certainly weren't saints. The PFP did not survive the transition to democracy and became the Democratic Party, who today are about as effective as the PFP were during the Apartheid years.

The EP Blameer Dit Op Apartheid ("Blame it on Apartheid") is essential listening for anybody who understands Afrikaans (Dutch or Flemish will suffice, maybe even German) and knows something about South African political history. It is a collection of songs that were deemed too extreme for Madiba Bay.

The title track is hilarious, essentially Kombuis blames the social ills at the time (many of which endure to today) on Apartheid and all the people and events associated with it. It is irony. He is saying we should take responsibility ourselves.

AWB Tiete is a hoot as well. (Apologies to those who got that.)

Tassenberg is the brand of cheap red wine that carnan mentioned.

On the OppiKoppi Live 97 CD, Koos introduces his band --

op dromme, Dagga Dirk Uys van Carolina, op lead kitaar, Anton l'Moeeeer van die Valiant Swart band, op ritmekitaar -- [aside] wat's jou van? --Waterkloof Jones, van Waterkloof... en op Tassenburg, Koos Kombuis

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