Jan Hendrik Hofmeyr de Waal

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Jan Hendrik Hofmeyr de Waal

(known as J.H.H. de Waal) (1871-1937). Teacher, writer, poet, dramatist and editor.


He was born Jan Hendrik Hofmeyr de Waal, but was best known as J.H.H. de Waal, and in the early years also wrote as Janni or Janni de Waal. Trained as a lawyer.

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




He initially became a teacher in Uitenhage and Utrecht, he moved to Cape Town in 1893?*. A founding member of the 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 first appeared.

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

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

He is best remembered as a writer of the novel Johannes van Wyk, and as a writer of one-act plays, which linked up with the farces of Melt Brink as well as the historical romanticism of S.J. du Toit. While not rated highly as literature, they nevertheless provided plenty of material for amateur theatre groups and schools, and so 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 escpecially little concerts he did with the Christian youth group (CJV, Christen Jongelieden Vereniging) of the Nieuwe Kerk ("New Chiurch") 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), ‘n Skoonvader ("A Father-in-Law" - 1910). 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.

Awards, etc


(Binge, 1969; De Beer, 1995; Kannemeyer, 1983; Du Toit, 1988) [JH)

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