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By Hein Kaiser

Journalist


‘Bliksem we are lekker people’: SA rallies behind Leon Schuster as he recovers from op

SA filmmaker, comedian, actor, prankster and singer Leon Schuster is currently recovering in hospital after undergoing a back operation.


Leon Schuster is South Africa’s most loved, slapstick funnyman. Like biltong, boerewors and Castle Lager, his movies and music have stood the test of time. And now South Africans are crossing their fingers that Mr Bones will get well sooner rather than later.

Schuster recently revealed he was in a Pretoria hospital recovering from a back operation.

The 72-year-old comedian was in high spirits during a video message to his fans.

“I am lying here in my hospital bed and I feel good today,” he said, urging rugby fans to stand behind the national team, and leave politics behind, because “all that matters now is the winning factor.”

Last week Schuster released his version of a Bok anthem called Bokmasjien, a ditty along the same lines as his evergreen Hier Kom Die Bokke.

In the week prior, an online advertisement for The Courier Guy had audiences in stitches as a narrative, in true Schuster style, punted the delivery service. It was a parody of his own anthem, changed to a chorus of ‘Hier Kom Die Bokse’ out just in time for the South Africa and Wales pre–World Cup friendly.

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Despite the ad and the release of the rugby tune, fans were concerned about Schuster’s health. His hospitalisation occurred in the same week that broadcast icon Derek Watts passed away, raising concerns that the Mr Bones’ actor may be more serious than, perhaps, conveyed publicly.

Tributes and well-wishes flooded social media.

The outpouring of love for Schuster online was indicative of the significant impact he has had on the South African psyche and popular culture.

Leon Schuster’s career

Best known for his pranks in the You Must Be Joking film series, Schuster has never been afraid to shy away from politically or culturally sensitive issues.

In Oh Shucks, Here Comes UNTAG he took the mickey out of the United Nations peacekeeping force during Namibia’s transition from South West Africa, a protectorate of the apartheid government, to an independent nation.

In the Mr. Bones trilogy, he played to racial stereotyping with deep undertones of satire, behind the slapstick.

There were always two levels to Schuster’s work. The desperately funny and the serious undertone that drove subconscious introspection from audiences.

Not everyone found it funny though, and while Schuster was unapologetic about playing other racial groups in his movies, the growing woke movement on social media didn’t find it thought-provoking.

Instead, during the height of the Black Lives Matter movement and the beginning of cancel culture, streaming service Showmax canned six of Schuster’s movies from its inventory.

At the time, the actor was hurt and said that he did not believe that his material ever did any harm.

However, three years later he has made a welcome return to the entertainment fray as Bokmasjien gains momentum and brands like The Courier Guy feel safe enough to leverage his fame and legacy in a commercial.

While details of Schuster’s discharge from hospital are not available yet, the country seemed to hope that it’s soon.

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