Hagen Engler
4 minute read
11 Apr 2021
8:00 am

Mzansi is an imperfect concept but yassis, you miss it

Hagen Engler

If language is an expression of ourselves, I imagine speaking our home language when we’re away – even just fragments of it – evokes the self we used to be.

Picture: iStock

  “Geniet die lang naweek,” my friend wished me on WhatsApp as we awoke on that glorious Thursday morning, with Easter stretching long and languid before us like a crescent beach in an unspoilt corner of the Eastern Cape. “Lekker vakansie hou.” I couldn’t help raising my eyebrows at the Afrikaans phraseology – not least because this particular friend has lived in Australia for the 11 years. Not only that, but his genealogy is as solidly English as a team of Morris dancers and a Yorkshire pudding. Until that moment, I had never known him to speak Afrikaans as long...