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Donkerland [“Dark Land”] is a 1996 Afrikaans play by Deon Opperman. Published by Tafelberg Uitgewers (1996).


An epic drama of five hours duration, in two parts, and consisting of 10 short plays of 20-45 minutes each, with 11 actors playing 68 characters and telling the story of seven generations of an Afrikaner family living on the farm Donkerland in Natal, a saga spanning a century and a half from 1838 to 1996. It tells the story of the Afrikaner from the Great Trek to the New South Africa (post 1994), as it was intertwined with the stories of the other cultures and peoples inhabiting the land. Opperman presented the saga as if holding up a mirror for the Afrikaners to see what brought them to this current reality, to question their place in it and their future. Ultimately Opperman’s mirror reflected the socio-political pessimism experienced by many Afrikaners immediately after the 1994 elections; all that will remain of the Afrikaner in this dark country, the play suggests, will be as fleeting as a snail’s trail across a rock on the farm Donkerland, a mere footnote in the annals of history. “This is my attempt at singing the song of a nation. A nation which is a mixture of nobility and monstrosity, which slaughtered, but also was slaughtered” (Deon Opperman, 1995, translated from Afrikaans). [Van Heerden (2008)][1]. p. 132

Performance history in South Africa

1996: Commissioned for the KKNK, produced there for PACT under the direction of the author in 1996 and later the same year at the Grahamstown Festival and in mainstream theatres. The cast included André Odendaal, Eric Nobbs, Seipati Montsho, Nomhle Nkonyeni, Shadrack Keorapetse, Petro-Nelise Trichardt, Samson Khumalo, David Clatworthy and others.

Translations and adaptations

A television mini-series, Donkerland (2013), was produced for the pay-TV channel kykNet and directed by Jozua Malherbe.


KKNK theatre programme, 1996.

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