Thomas Blok

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(b. Sint Maarten, Netherlands, 07/05/1879 - d. Bloemfontein, 27/06/1964). Educationist, author, critic, filmmaker. Thomas Blok was born in Sint Maarten, a village in the Dutch province of North Holland. Both he and his wife, Johanna Weijerman, were teachers and emigrated to South Africa in 1913. From being the teacher/principal at a farm school near Kroonstad, he soon moved to what was then the Preparatory Technical School in Bloemfontein, becoming its principal in 1918. From 1923 to 1939 he was a lecturer at the Normal College (later the Teachers' Training College), while as secretary of the Orange Free State Teachers' Association and editor of Die Skoolblad, he had a great influence on the development of education in the province.

He strongly identified himself with the cause of the Afrikaner and his friendship with D.F. du Toit (Oom Lokomotief) led him to adopt Afrikaans as his literary language. He wrote a number of text books for school use and three major historical studies: Grensboere: 'n verhaal uit die dae van President Hoffman (1921), Die Adendorff-trek (1927) and Trek! (1938). He wrote a review of D.C. Postma's play Oom Paul, staged by Hendrik Hanekom and members of his Vrystaatse Toneelskool, for Die Volksblad (28 September, 1934) and in 1938 he produced an Afrikaans version of Ibsen's Boumeester Solness (The Master Builder) for the Handhawers Toneelgeselskap in Bloemfontein. He was one of the shareholders in Utolo Beperk and, together with J.F. Marais (later Judge Kowie Marais), directed Donker Spore (1944), his only excursion into the film world. In 1952 he received an honorary doctorate in education from what was then the University of the Orange Free State. Blok Street in the Bloemfontein suburb of Universitas is named after him.

Sources

Binge, L.W.B. - Ontwikkeling van die Afrikaanse toneel (1832-1950)

Le Roux, André I. & Fourie, Lilla – Filmverlede: geskiedenis van die Suid-Afrikaanse speelfilm

Schoeman, Karel - Dictionary of South African biography

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