J.H. Malan

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(1874-1961) Journalist, editor, critic and playwright.


Born Jan Hendrik Malan in 1874 on the farm Groenberg, Wellington, and became a teacher, teaching in the Free State for three years (1894-1897). He continued his studies and taught Dutch at the High School in Seapoint.

In 1904 he switched to journalism, beginning at the Re-Echo, followed by stints as editor inter alia at Het Zuid-Westen in Oudtshoorn, Het Westen in Potchefstroom, where he also edited the short lived journal Werda, and Die Volksblad in Bloemfontein (1914-1916; 1919-1921).

While he was the editor of the Dutch-English newspaper Het Zuid-Westen in Oudtshoorn he worked with C.J. Langenhoven, who followed him as editor in 1912, when he was forced to resign over political differences with the directors.

His contribution as journalist and author

A polemical journalist (generally known as as "Oom Fanie") and writer, his many causes included the campaign for simplified spelling in Afrikaans, for which he wrote many articles under a number of pseudonyms (e.g. "Cabo" and "Bonhomie") in the journal Ons Land ("Our Land").

His books include the controversial Boer en barbaar, of, Die lotgevalle van die Voortrekkers viral tussen die jare 1835 en 1840. (Potchefstroom : Het Westen, 1913 ), an historical novel, Die Swerweling, which appeared in 1921 and a collection of stories and poems entitled Sonskyn en Skaduwee ("Sunshine and shadow") in 1926.

His contributions to South African theatre

As journalist and editor he was not only a strong supporter of the debating societies and cultural life in Oudtshoorn and elsewhere, but he also reviewed such activities.

His other writing included a number of little satiric plays or dialogues, such as Die Toekomstige Planne ("The Future Plans", 1908), Moloch (under the pseudonym "Ou Knolkool", 1910) and In die Koffiekamer ("In the Coffee Room", 1911). In 1917 he also published a conventional tragedy in three acts, Na Olikheid kom Vrolikheid, 'n Treurspel in Drie Bedrijwe ("After illness comes joy, a tragedy in three acts").


Schoonees, P.C. 1922 Die prosa van die twede Afrikaanse beweging, Amsterdam: J.H. de Bussy: pp. 209-210.

Correspondence from Dr Sandy Rowoldt Shell (former Head of African Studies Library at the University of Cape Town, 2002-2011)Wednesday, June 18, 2014.

Letter from J.H. Malan (from Potchestroom on Het Westen – official organ of the SA Party notepaper) to GEC 19.7.1913 (a manuscript letter in the Cory Library, Rhodes University, Grahamstown: MS 1450.

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