Onze Taal

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There have been two organisations called Onze Taal: one in Bloemfontein and one in Pretoria

Onze Taal, Bloemfontein

Onze Taal ("Our Language") was the original Dutch name of the cultural organisation founded in Bloemfontein 1908 to promote the Dutch language in South Africa. Later changed its name to Ons Taal, in Afrikaans.

See Ons Taal

Onze Taal, Pretoria, 1891 – 1899

Name assumed by the Dutch-language “rederijkerskamer” (oratory-club) Wilhelmina shortly after its inception in Pretoria in February 1891 and active there until 1899. Founded in Pretoria by F. Plantegna, it was a closed society concerned with the use, preservation and growth of the Dutch language in South Africa, based on the same principles as the group Aurora.

The later, more permanent, name of the society was taken from the title of a song ("Onze Taal") written by two prominent members, Dirk J. Balfoort (a composer) and H. Roorda (a poet), who were also particularly prominent in the theatrical activities of the society, the former directing most of the plays put on in the 1890s. Other prominent members included P.W.T. Bell, G.A. Odé, Miss Trotsenburg and Miss van der Schuit.

Onze Taal produced short translated or original plays interspersed with recitations and music at the Good Templars Hall, later also performing in the President's Theatre.

Among the plays produced in the 1890s Ludwig Binge (1969, p.35) lists John Allman (Everyman?), De Trekpleister ("The drawcard"), Veel Liever ("Much Rather"), Het Omgevallen Zoutvat ("The toppled salt-cellar""), Twee die Niet Durven ("The two who do not dare") and De Bijziende ("The short sighted one"), Het Zangerfeest ("The singers festival", Von Moser) and Doktor Klaus (l'Arronge), while F.C.L. Bosman (1980: pp.483-5) provides a different list consisting of: De Buren ("the neighbours", Van Maurik), De Bengaalsche Tijger ("The Bengal tiger", Brisebarre and Michel), De Trekpleister ("The drawcard"), Als Men Zijn Beurs Verloren Heeft (Michel and Laurencin), and Uitgaan (Beyerman).

The society was active there until 1899, when the outbreak of the Anglo-Boer War caused the company to disband temporarily, starting up again in 1904.

Onze Taal, Pretoria, 1904-1908

The society was revived in 1904, but struggled and was defunct again by 1908. In this period they used the renamed Empress's Theatre to do sporadic plays, including Nerveus (Von Moser and Girndt), Onze Vrouwen (Von Moser and Von Schönthan), Jan Ongeluk (Blumenthal and Kadelberg), De Speculanten (Van Buren), De Stokebrand (Benedix), Politiezaken (Von Schönthan), La Mascotte (Audran), De Boezemvriend (Praga), Voor het Diner (Simons-Mees), Jean Marie (Theuriet) and Vorstenschool (Multatuli).

Onze Taal, Pretoria, 1914-?

An attempt was made to re-establish it again in 1914, but failed once more.

[TH, JH]


Ludwig Wilhelm Berthold Binge. 1969. Ontwikkeling van die Afrikaanse toneel (1832-1950). Pretoria: J.L. van Schaik: pp. 35-36, 102, 153.

F.C.L. Bosman. 1928. Drama en Toneel in Suid-Afrika, Deel I: 1652-1855. Pretoria: J.H. de Bussy. [1]: pp. 9

F.C.L. Bosman. 1980. Drama en Toneel in Suid-Afrika, Deel II, 1856-1912. Pretoria: J.L. van Schaik: pp.42, 453, 483-5.

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

Jill Fletcher. 1994. The Story of Theatre in South Africa: A Guide to its History from 1780-1930. Cape Town: Vlaeberg.

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