The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #19872   Message #205067
Posted By: Rick Fielding
01-Apr-00 - 10:29 AM
Thread Name: Seeking Josef Marais
Subject: RE: Seeking Josef Marais
Two years ago I met a young (18) traveller, while bumming at my local music store. (Encore Music in Toronto) Complete with gigantic back pack and hungry look he was getting his crack at seeing the world before heading back to South Africa and doing whatever sons of Afrikaan plantation owners do these days.

I invited him home for lunch (and to do a set up on the used banjo he'd just bought) and that became the start of an interesting six month relationship. I was quite surprised at how difficult Julian's Afrikaan's accent was to penetrate, and how (passionately) separate he considered himself from "Brit" South Africans. He espoused a kind of racism that we rarely encounter around here, often referring to black people as if they were dangerous children. Quite a bit of culture shock I have to tell you. He told us of his experiences of learning to use assault rifles by the age of 5, as all white South Africans "had to be armed for protection". I suspect his parents and family, if not actually members, would probably have been supporters of Eugene Terreblanche and his "neo Nazi" organization.

It struck me how different his vision of the world was from mine, when I was doing my "youth hostelling". 'Course, my family never had indentured (and angry) workers doing all the work on the "spread". Nelson Mandela's release and the subsequent changes must have scared the shit out of all the rural white farmers.

As much as I thought that Heather and I could be a good influence on the kid, there was no way I was going to take him to a song circle or folk club with the way he viewed folks of colour (or gays, or liberals, and probably Jews). I found myself starting to distance myself from him and figuring that 18 years of conditioning was not going to be influenced by a few weeks of "equality thinking".

Before we lost touch I gave him a record of Josef Marais singing "Songs from the Veldt", and he took to it immediately, wanting to learn all the songs on it. The last few times we had together were fun and totally concerned with politics involved.

Got a call from him about a year ago from Argentina, and one from Birmingham England. Could have been my imagination, but I sensed a bit more "live and let live" attitude in his voice. I guess travel and folk music can do that to you.