De Nieuwe Ridderorde, of De Temperantisten

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De Nieuwe Ridderorde, of De Temperantisten (lit. "The New Knighthood/New Chivalric Order, or the 'Temperantists'/People of the Temperance Movement"), is a satirical burlesque in Dutch and Cape Dutch (Afrikaans) by Charles Etienne Boniface (1787/8?-1853/4?). The work has in four acts and 26 scenes.

Sometimes referred to simply as either De Nieuwe Ridderorde or as De Temperantisten.

The original text

A satirical work by entitled De Nieuwe Ridderorde ("The New Knighthood" or "The New Chivalric Order") by C.E. Boniface, may possibly have been written as early as 1825, although the title is also used as an alternative (or sub) title for De Nieuwe Ridderorde, of De Temperantisten, the better known work, which dates from 1832.

The play was written to satirize the wave of English philanthropic puritanism which was sweeping the Cape at the time, a movement which was ultimately to lead to the founding of the Cape of Good Hope Temperance Society and the freeing of the slaves in 1834 and strong prohibitionist measures against alcohol abuse, and even the anti-theatrical movement. Many supporters of these causes, as well as their opponents, are satirized and appear as caricatures in the work - which contains 29 named characters, in various categories (including "Anti-temperantisten of Cognac drinkers", "Leerlingen Temperantisten" (each a caricature of a prominent personage in town), plus "Hottentotten onlangs tot de orde ingelyfd" and an unnamed number of "Drukkers, Letterzetters, Knechten, Settlers en Philipynen". It is set in Cape Town, six months after the founding of the Temperance Society there.

The work was for a long time considered the first recorded and certainly the first published play containing examples of Dutch-Afrikaans. Though written in Dutch, it also contained some of the first Afrikaans on stage, set in the mouths of Cape Dutch and drunken "Hottentot" characters, including one "Grietje Drilbouten", whose dialogue Bosman (1928: p. 304-5) describes as being in the purest Afrikaans ("die suiwerste Afrikaans").

The long text (almost 200 octavo pages) was written in dramatic form as a polemical and satirical burlesque, and was initially published by Boniface himself, most probably to be read and not to be performed, for it may have been considered too virulous to perform in a period of anti-theatrical sentiment. However, it was widely read and soon sold out - and appears to be have been very successful, both commercially and polemically, with the The Commercial Advertiser for example publishing angry retorts. For a while this work, in association with Clasius, of Het Proces om een Komedie-Lootje (1834), established Boniface as an important Dutch writer at the Cape.

In the formally published version of the play (P.A. Brand, Market Square, Cape Town, 1832) it appears on the title-page with the double title of De Nieuwe Ridderorde, with De Temperantisten as the alternative title.

Translations and adaptations

Bosman (1928: p. 320) mentions that the play also elicited emulation, for instance on 10 August 1832 De Zuid-Afrikaan published a satirical piece called John MacSycophant (Jan Pluimstrykerszoon in the Dutch version), written by an anonymous author and aimed at John Fairbairn and the English clergy of the time.

Performance history in South Africa

No performances of the text are known.


F.C.L. Bosman, 1928. Drama en Toneel in Suid-Afrika, Deel I: 1652-1855. Pretoria: J.H. de Bussy. [1]: pp. 37, 124-5, 179, 299-320, 330, 373, 495.

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