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Rise of boerepunks

"We are liberating the language. If you can make a language into rock and roll, it can't be an oppressive language anymore. It' s got to be free. It is just an African language like any other and it is certainly not the exc lusive property of the volk."

- Johannes Kerkorrel

A new type of alternative Afrikaans music began to make itself heard in the mid-1980s. Energetic, anarchistic and angry like never before, this was the beginning of a rock revolution, headed up by charismatic rebel boere-troubadours with defiantly absurd stage names intent on using music to criticise the apartheid regime and reclaim their mother tongue from the oppressors.

They used music to free themselves from the confines of suiwer Afrikaans culture by refusing to kowtow Afrikanerdom's sacred cows, choosing instead to remix them irreverently. Lyrics often satirised the immense respect for the church and military, and they delighted in making the finger-wagging poster boy fo r the National Party monolith, President PW Botha, the brunt of their rage-fuelled jokes, in tracks such as "Sit Dit Af!", "Waat ń Vriend Het Ons in PW?" and "Vakansie in Lusaka."

Ironically, it was two English-speakers who were instrumental in kicking off this revolution with the arrival of Bernoldus Niemand, the enigmatic Afrikaans cowboy alter ego of Springs musician James Phillips - and his album Wie is Bernoldus Niemand?released in 1985 by fellow rooinek Lloyd Ross. Promptly banned from the airwaves for its satirical deconstruction of Afrikaner society, this "Mr Nobody" was later recognised to be an inspiration for Afrikaans journalist Ralph Rabie's reincarnation as Johannes Kerkorrel (John Church Organ) of the Gereformeerde Blues Band (GBB), whose debut album Eet Kreef was released by Shifty in 1989. And Andre Letoit, later known as Koos Kombuis, acknowledged in pun that he was forging the path initially laid down by Bernoldus Niemand when he called his second album, released by Shifty in 1990, Niemandsland & beyond.


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