Melvin Whitebooi

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Melvin Whitebooi (1956–2011) was an author, playwright, actor and journalist.


He was born and grew up in the township Schauderville in Port Elizabeth, and completed his matriculation at the secondary school in Uitenhage. He then became a journalist working for newspapers like Die Burger, Rapport, and Die Son. From there he evolved into a prolific writer, mainly of prose and drama.

His plays and short stories were committed political works, dealing with the vicissitudes of life on the Cape Flats.

He was married to Roseline and had two children, Siobhan and Aarika.

His contributions to theatre, film, media and performance in South Africa

Whitebooi began his theatrical career working with the Cape Flats Players in the 1980s, for which he wrote a number of Afrikaans plays, most of them performed, but the majority unpublished .

His first and perhaps best known play is Dit sal die blêrrie dag wies! (i.e. "That’ll be the bloody day!" - also written: Dit sal die bleddie dag wees). Other works by Witbooi produced by the company include Dié kant dáái kant ("This side, that side" - 1984), Koffie en kondensmelk ("Coffee and Condensed Milk" - 1986), and Die Goodbye People (“The Goodbye People”, 1991).

He later also wrote the plays Die draadsitter (lit; The Fence sitter, 1991), ’n Woensdag in April (A Wednesday in April, 1995) and the radio drama Die reënmaker ("The Rainmaker", 1986). For television he was a scriptwriter for the TV series Die Allemans (1991) and a single TV drama Tot jy dood is ("Until you are dead", 1994).

A copy of an incomplete typed playtext called Wie de hel is Johnny P. Adams en waarom sing hy die Blues?, credited to Melvin Whitebooi and Joseph Mitchell, was found in the Stellenbosch Drama Department archives in 2022.

Other writing

He wrote regular serials for Die Burger-Ekstra, including Smeltkroes van die liefde (1977), Miranda is haar naam (1978), Meisie van die see (1978), Angela se verhaal (1980), Jou dag sal jy kry (1980), Met bloed sal jy betaal (1982), Siener van die dood (1983), Nag van die Swart Arend (1983), Siener van die dood: die jare daarna (1984), Vrou agter die masker (1985), Rykmanshoogte (1985), Dogter van die duiwel (1985), Jy soek jou dood (1986) and Blou Bloed (1988). A number of his short stories have been published in collections.


Peter Braaf. 2012. Melvin Whitebooi (1956-2011). Tydskrif vir Letterkunde 49(1):pp.153–155.[1]

Julian Smith 1990. Toneel en Politiek. Bellville: Universiteit van Wes-Kaapland.

Valcke, Elke. 1999. "Swart Afrikaans gemeenskapstheater", Documenta 17(4), 390-399[2].

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