The time was that hearing the distinctive clipped accent of white Southern Africans at the hostel was a rare occurrence indeed. To the untrained ear it could easily be mistaken for a New Zealand accent with which it has strong similarities.
Of late, more and more white South Africans have come to the hostel. Most of them are young backpackers on working holiday visas who are intending to stay for a year.
The oddest thing about these “Saffas” (as they refer to themselves) is that the majority seem to be Afrikaners; members of the only white tribe on the African continent. They refer to themselves as “Boers” which means “Farmers” in their native tongue, Afrikaans.
They first settled in Africa more than three centuries ago and have developed a unique culture with an almost pathological connection to the land. They are the only whites on the continent that do not claim to be European. Their language is an odd admixture of Old Dutch, with Huguenot and German influences. They have even developed their own literature.
We have two young South African brothers working at the hostel. The brothers have relocated to Canada. By virtue of the fact that their mother had been born in Canada allowed the brothers to obtain Canadian citizenship.
Both brothers, Wouter and Evert, have been imbued with the strong Boer work ethic and are both a strong asset to the hostel. With recent events in Southern Africa (like the land seizures, hyperinflation and stolen elections in Zimbabwe) and the election of an avowed racist and alleged rapist as the President in waiting, many South Africans are seeking alternatives.
The brothers are fortunate, because they have one.
Most Boers would have to look back as many as 10 to 15 generations to find European roots. And contrary to popular belief, they do not, in our experience with them, tend harbor overt racist attitudes.
It is a sad reflection on the future of Southern Africa; but, if the hard-working brothers, Wouter and Evert, are typical examples of Afrikaner immigrants, it seems they should prove to to be most desirable migrants to this country.
Wouter (left) with his younger brother Evert.