J.H.H. de Waal

Jump to navigation Jump to search

J.H.H. de Waal (1871-1937) was a teacher, writer, poet, dramatist and editor.

He also wrote under the names Janni or Janni de Waal, particularly in earlier years. In later years the name Jannie also appears in one case, probably also a pseudonym used by De Waal .


Born Jan Hendrik Hofmeyr de Waal , he generally wrote and published as J.H.H. de Waal, though in earlier years, he was also referred to as Janni, or Janni de Waal.

He trained as a lawyer and initially became a teacher in Uitenhage and Utrecht, then moved to Cape Town in 1893?*. A founding member of the Die Afrikaanse Taalvereniging (3 November 1906), he battled to get Afrikaans recognized in the Cape courts.

Editor of De Goede Hoop (1903-1914), in which most of his verse, prose plays - written in an early form of Afrikaans - first appeared.

Became a member of parliament in 1915 and served as Speaker of the House between 1929 and 1933.

He is best remembered as a writer of the novel Johannes van Wyk and for his one-act plays.

An autobiographical work, My herinnerings van ons taalstryd ("My memories of our language struggle"), was published by Nasionale Pers in 1932.

Contribution to SA theatre, film, media and/or performance

His one-act plays, which linked up with the farces of Melt Brink as well as the historical romanticism of S.J. du Toit, are not rated highly as literature, but they nevertheless provided plenty of material for amateur theatre groups and schools over the years. In this way they helped establish an Afrikaans theatre culture. F.C.L. Bosman (1928, 1980) considers him one of the founding fathers of Afrikaans theatre.

His early "samesprake" ("dialogues"), written especially for small concerts he did with the Christian youth group (CJV, Christen Jongelieden Vereniging) of the Nieuwe Kerk ("New Church") and performed in the Wicht Hall of the in Cape Town.

These include Di dokter van di dorp ("The doctor of the town"), Jan en Katrina, 'n Les oor di Tier ("a lesson about the tiger") and Jacob Riem en di Varki ("Jacob Riem and the Pig"), which appear to have been among the very first plays specifically performed in Afrikaans (possibly in Uitenhage in 1892, in Cape Town ca.1893 or 1894).

Among his later plays the better known are Anjelina (1903), Die Spioen en sy Handlangers (“The spy and his cronies” - 1907), Amper maar nog nie (“Almost but not quite” – 1907), Die Selfsugtige Skoolmeester (with P. de Waal). Much later came Oupa (1926), Die Dobbelspelletjie (“The gambling game” – 1930) and Die Jonge Skrywer (“The young writer” - 1931), in which he reacts strongly to negative criticism, notably from Preller and Schoonees.

De Waal also contributed to the stock of dramatic literature in Afrikaans by translating a number of European and English works, including 'n Anonieme Briefwisseling ("An anonymous correspondence", 1907), ‘n Skoonvader ("A Father-in-Law", 1910)

Many of his short dramatic works were published in a collection of stories, rhymes en short plays called Stompies in 1911.




Ludwig Wilhelm Berthold Binge. 1969. Ontwikkeling van die Afrikaanse toneel (1832-1950). Pretoria: J.L. van Schaik: pp.

F.C.L. Bosman. 1980. Drama en Toneel in Suid-Afrika, Deel II, 1856-1916. Pretoria: J.L. van Schaik: pp.

P.J. du Toit. 1988. Amateurtoneel in Suid-Afrika. Pretoria: Academica

Peter Joyce. 1999. A Concise Dictionary of South African Biography. Cape Town: Francolin Publishers.

J.C. Kannemeyer. 1984. ‘’Geskiedenis van die Afrikaanse Literatuur’’1. Tafelberg Uitgewers[1]: pp.

J.C. Kannemeyer. 1984. ‘’Geskiedenis van die Afrikaanse Literatuur’’2[2]: pp.

Go to ESAT Bibliography

Return to

Return to ESAT Personalities D

Return to South African Theatre Personalities

Return to The ESAT Entries

Return to Main Page