40 + Incredible Afrikaans Idioms with English Equivalents and Meaning

Afrikaans Idioms with English Equivalent and Meaning

Another incredible list of Afrikaans Idioms, their English equivalent and meaning, because we like them and need them so! Patience, repetition, making connections with expressions already known as well as with visual clues are key to understanding idioms, as some are easier to decode and grasp than others.

40 + Incredible Afrikaans Idioms sorted A to Z, with English equivalents and meaning.

‘n Appel en ‘n ei (Eier)
Literal translation: An apple and an egg.
Corresponding English Idiom: Dirt cheap / as cheap as chips / dime a dozen.
Meaning: Very cheap.

Appels swaai
Word for word: Swinging apples.
Corresponding English Idiom: To roll with the punches.
Meaning: Fighting with fists / fisting / boxing.

Afrikaans Appels swaai swinging apples boxing

Die baba / kind met die badwater uitgooi
Verbatim: Throw the baby out/away with the bath water.
Corresponding English Idiom: To make matters worse / Add insult to injury.
Meaning: To lose the essential element by indiscriminate rejection / Mising the big picture by pointing out small mistakes / To share the good and reject the bad / To lose valuable. ideas while attempting to get rid of what is unwanted.

Balke saag
Exact translation: Sawing beams.
Corresponding English Idiom: Sawing timber.
Meaning: To saw the air / sleeping, one is snoring.

Die bul by die horings pak
Literally: Taking the bull by the horns.
Corresponding English Idiom: To take the bull by the horns.
Meaning: To take up a large task / to face a situation head on, especially a difficult or dangerous situation.

Die dam onder die eend uitruk
Literal translation: Yanking the dam from under the duck.
Corresponding English Idiom: To go overboard.
Meaning: To go overboard, to the extreme with something / To act without restraint in some area.

Die dam onder die eend uitruk = Yanking the dam from under the duck. To go overboard.

Op eiers loop
Word for word translation: To walk on eggs.
Corresponding Idiom: To walk on eggshells.
Meaning: To act very carefully as to not offend someone.

‘n Eiertjie lê
Verbally translated: To lay an egg.
Corresponding Idiom in English: Adding your two cents worth.
Meaning: To always have something to say.

Die goeie tegelyk met die slegte verwerp
Exact translation: reject the good at the same time as the bad.
Corresponding English Idiom: Take the rough with the smooth.
Meaning: To reject both the negative and positive aspects of something. The phrase is typically used in an acknowledgement that nothing is perfect.

(Kan/Sal/Gaan) nie hond haaraf maak nie
Translated word by word: (Can/Shall/Will) not take a dog’s hair off.
Corresponding English Idiom: Bite off more than you can chew.
Meaning: (Can/Shall/Will etc.) not get something right / unable to finish the task at hand.

Die Olifant en die Skaap
Die Olifant en die Skaap

Snuffel op die Internet rond / ‘op die net/Internet rondkuier/rondsnuffel/rondrits’.
Literally: Browse the Internet.
English Idiom: Surf the web.
Meaning:Be online / connect to the Internet.

Jakkals trou met wolf se vrou
Literally: Jackal marries wolf’s wife.
Corresponding English Idiom: The devil is beating his wife.
Meaning: The sun is shining while it’s raining (a sunshower).

Jong osse inspan
Literally: To harness young oxen.
Corresponding English Idiom: As sick as a dog / Looking green around the gills.
Meaning: Vomiting.

Afrikaans Jong osse inspan harness young oxen vomiting

Aan jouself begin twyfel
Literal translation: To begin to doubt yourself / your abilities.
Corresponding English Idiom: Keep your eye on the prize.
Meaning: remain focused on a particular goal or award, especially when the path to it is long or arduous.

Katte skiet
Literally: Shooting cats.
Corresponding English Idiom: As sick as a dog / Looking green around the gills.
Meaning: Vomiting.

In die kollig
Word for word: In the limelight / spotlight.
Corresponding English Idiom: Be in the spotlight / under the spotlight.
Meaning: To be in the center of attention.

Koppe bymekaar sit
Literal translation: Putting heads together.
English Idiom: Put your heads together.
Meaning: To work together to come up with an idea or solution.

Sy lot is beslis
Translation: His fate is certain / sealed.
English Idiom: Time puts everything in its place / His fate is sealed.
Meaning: To have the knowledge that an unpleasant thing will happen to someone.

Al is jy nie op jou mond geval nie
Word for word translation: Even if you did not fall on your mouth.
Corresponding English Idiom: Be a know-it-all.
Meaning: Never be at a loss for words, have a fluent / ready / smooth tongue (or a tongue in one’s head), be lippy’ / always have an answer for everything.

Ek meneer en jy meneer, wie sal die wa smeer / As almal baas wil wees, wie sal dan Klaas wees?
Word for word translation: Me, sir, and you, sir, who will lubricate the wagon / If everyone wants to be the in charge, who will be Klaas? (see below).
Corresponding English Idiom: If two ride on a horse, one must ride behind / I stout and thou stout, who shall bear the ashes?
Meaning: When two people do something together, if both want to be in charge, there will be nobody to do the work. In Afrikaans, definition where Klaas is the ‘subordinate’.

“The translation “master and servant” reflects the typical understanding of the idiom “baas en Klaas.” “Klaas” independently is simply a forename (hence its capitalization) and not the Afrikaans word for either “servant” or “slave”— it acquires this meaning by virtue of its use in combination with “baas,” or in a context in which a class relationship of subordination is being invoked.” (Danelle van Zyl-Hermann, for Cambridge Core).

As almal baas wil wees, wie sal dan Klaas wees? If two ride on a horse, one must ride behind

Met die hele mandtjie patats vorendag kom
Literally: Coming to the front with the whole basket of sweet potatoes.
English Corresponding Idiom: To spill the beans / To let the cat out of the bag.
Meaning: Giving all the details about something (normally in a bad sense).

Met ‘n ander man se kalwers ploeg
Literally: Plowing with another man’s calves.
English Corresponding Idiom: Plowing with someone else’s oxen / Steal the thunder.
Meaning: To use someone else’s e.g. idea / Take credit for someone else’s work.

Nat agter die ore
Literally: Wet behind the ears.
English Idiom: Wet behind the ears.
Meaning: To be inexperienced, immature or poor skilled.

Jagluiperd Hond Amazon Patricia Furstenberg

Ek is nie onder ‘n kalkoen uitgebroei nie
Literal interpretation: I didn’t grew up under a turkey.
English Idiom: Born yesterday.
Meaning: Not as dumb, naive or inexperienced as you think.

Ou koeie uit die sloot uitgrawe
Literally: Digging old cows out of the ditch.
Corresponding Idiom: Digging up bones / Turning over rocks.
Meaning: Reviving an old quarrel / searching for something hard to find.

Pêrels voor die swyne werp/gooi
Literally: Throwing pearls before the swine.
Corresponding Idiom: To cast pearls before the swine.
Meaning: To impart wisdom or knowledge to someone who won’t appreciate it / to waste your time offering something that is helpful or valuable to someone who does not appreciate or understand it.

Pêrels voor die swyne werp/gooi, = To cast pearls before the swine - To impart wisdom to someone who won’t appreciate it

‘n Perd van ‘n ander kleur
Literally: A horse of a different color.
Corresponding Idiom: A different kettle of fish.
Meaning: A person that is different from others / a subject that is totally different from what has been discussed until then.

Die room afskep
Literally: Skim off / scoop up the cream.
Corresponding English Idiom: To strike while the iron is hot.
Meaning: To get the best out of a situation / to take advantage of a situation.

Skape tel
Literally: To count sheep.
Corresponding Idiom: Counting sheep.
Meaning: To try to go to sleep by imagining lots of white sheep jumping over a fence one by one and trying to count them.

So skaars soos hoender tande
Literally: As rare as chicken teeth.
English Idiom: Once in a blue moon.
Meaning: Something occurring very rarely.

Gaan stap vir stap te werk
Word for word translation: Work step by step.
English Idiom: One step at a time.
Meaning: slowly and carefully, doing just a little at a time, step by step.

Swartgallige uitkyk
Word for word translation: Melancholic outlook.
English Idiom: Expecting to raining on your parade / A half-empty kind of guy / Bursting his bubble.
Meaning: Having a negative or pessimistic approach, or outlook in life.

Die Leeu en die Hond
Die Leeu en die Hond

Twak verkoop
Literally: Selling tobacco / rubbish.
English Idiom: To beat one’s gums / To talk one’s ear off.
Meaning: Talking nonsense.

Te veel hooi op die vurk laai
Literally: Loading too much hay on the pitchfork.
Corresponding Idiom: To bite off more than one can chew.
Meaning: Undertaking more than one can handle.

Die verkeerde perd opsaal
Literally: To saddle the wrong horse.
Corresponding English Idiom: Barking up the wrong tree.
Meaning: Looking in the wrong place for something / Using the wrong way to get. something right / waste one’s efforts by pursuing the wrong thing or path.

Om wolf skaapwagter te maak
Literally: To make wolf shepherd.
English Idiom: A wolf in sheep’s clothing.
Meaning: To give an untrustworthy person the responsibility / A villain with an innocent appearance / a hypocritical person / someone who outwardly looks harmless and kind with good intentions but inwardly is full of hate, evil and deceit.

Afrikaans Om wolf skaapwagter te maak  = To make wolf shepherd.. A wolf in sheep's clothing.

Vergewe en vergeet
Word for word translation: Forgive and forget.
English Idiom: Kiss and make up.
Meaning: To become friendly again after an argument.

Soos mis voor die son verdwyn
Literally: The fog disappears before the sun.
English Idiom: Gone into thin air.
Meaning: Disappeared without trace .

Op die vingers tik
Word for word translation: Tap on the fingers.
English Idiom: Slap on the wrist.
Meaning: To show disapproval .

Deur die wingerd loop met die wingerdgriep
Literally: Walking through the vineyard with the vineyard flu.
English Idiom: Drunk as a skunk / Three sheets in the wind.
Meaning: Being tipsy or drunk.

Om in die wolke te wees
Word for word translation: To be in the clouds.
English Idiom: To be on cloud nine / Over the moon / In seventh heaven.
Meaning: be delighted, excited, very happy.

Wrange vrugte pluk
Literally: Picking rotten fruit.
English Idiom: The chickens come home to roost.
Meaning: Having unexpected, bad consequences from your past actions.

Wrange vrugte pluk = Picking rotten fruit. Bad consequences from past actions

Wys waar Dawid die wortels begrawe het
Literally Translation: Show where David buried the carrots.
Corresponding English Idiom: Showing the ropes.
Meaning: To show / teach someone how a job is done.

Why are idioms so important?

The comprehension of figurative language, such as idioms and similes, expands one’s understating of a language, language use, and semantics. And this, in turn, affords the speaker access to a more dynamic use of one’s vocabulary.

Idioms, an Acrostic Poem

Intruding my peace one word at a time,
Defenseless am I in front of such speech:
Idioms, expressions, phrases with grime.
Obey elusive King Speech, what an itch!
Maybe I ought to forget my old spine –
Surely a slug needn’t know such tall speech?

©Patricia Furstenberg
Idioms acrostic poem Patricia Furstenberg

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6 Idioms Linguistically Identical in Afrikaans, German, English and Romanian

6 Idioms Linguistically Identical in Afrikaans, German, English and Romanian

Because idioms can be fun, here are 6 phrases linguistically identical in Afrikaans, German, English and Romanian, with a little historical background too. How else? 🙂

1. Hit the nail on the head – as old as the Bronze Age

(AFR) Slaan die spyker op die kop
(GER) Den Nagel auf den Kopf treffen
(ENG) Hit the nail on the head
(RO) A pune punctul pe i.
Meaning: to do exactly the right thing and also to know that acting differently will cause a great deal of pain. Ouch!

The origin of the phrase ‘to hit the nail on the head

Carpentry comes to mind and thus this expression must be as old as, well, the Bronze Age – bronze nails dating to 3400 BC were discovered in Egypt.

Searching for the use of hit the nail on the head in writing, The Phrase Finder mentions a medieval text, ‘The Book of Margery Kempe’ written during the 1430s. The book is a dictation of the life and divine revelations experienced by a woman, an English Christian mystic and pilgrim, yet not a nun, and is considered to be the first autobiography in the English language.

“If I hear any more these matters repeated, I shall so smite the nail on the head that it shall shame all her supporters.”

The Book of Margery Kempe, 1430s (in modern English)

In this context, the expression ‘hit the nail on the head’ probably means to speak severely.

idioms Afrikaans German English Romanian, Hit the nail on the head - as old as the Bronze Age

2. When the cat’s away, the mice will play – in Ancient Rome

(AFR) As die kat weg is, is die muis baas.
(GER) Ist die Katze aus dem Haus, tanzen die Mäuse auf dem Tisch.
(ENG) When the cat’s away, the mice will play.
(RO) Cand pisica nu-i acasa, joaca soarecii pe masa.
Meaning: when any kind of authority is lacking, someone will always take advantage.

When the cat’s away, the mice will play – its history

When the cat’s away, the mice will play is an idiom / proverb originated from the Latin dum felis dormit, mus gaudet et exsi litantro (when the cat sleeps, the mouse leaves its hole, rejoicing). The idiom was also encountered in 14th century France, ou chat na rat regne (‘Where there is no cat, the rat is king’). Surely, at any time throughout history it was observed that without moral standards, chaos ruled.

idioms Afrikaans German English Romanian. When the cat’s away, the mice will play - in Ancient Rome

3. Take the bull by the horns – in Ancient Greece

(AFR) Die bul by die horings pak
(GER) Den Stier bei den Hörnern (an)packen
(ENG) Take the bull by the horns.
(RO) A lua taurul de coarne.
(SPANISH) Coger el toro por las astas
Meaning: to face a difficult situation head-on.

Take the bull by the horns – its history

As many would have guessed, the rodeo practices of West America have bulled this saying into the everyday English vocabulary. During the 18th century, wrestling steers (castrated bulls) was part of the everyday working life of American ranchers.
Yet the practice of bullfighting and cattle wrangling originated with the sixteenth-century conquistadores, the conquistadors (soldiers and explorers of 15th – 17th centuries Spanish and Portuguese Empires), and the Mexican vaqueros, cowboys.
Obviously, a cowboy of any origin would be quite handy at controlling a bull by its horns, thus the literal use of the expression ‘to take the bull by the horns’ was long in use before it gained a figurative meaning.

What I love about idioms is that they seem to have an invisible connection with literature. And I remember now The Twelve Labours of Hercules (Heracles in Greek), especially the seventh one: capturing the Cretan bull.

Thus, could the expression ‘to take the bull by the horns’ originate in 600 BC with The Labours of Hercules written by Peisander of Camirus?

idioms Afrikaans German English Romanian. Take the bull by the horns in Ancient Greece
Detail – mosaic with the Labors of Hercules, 3rd century AD, found in Liria (Valencia), now at National Archaeological Museum of Spain, Madrid, photo Luis García for Wikimedia

4. To have someone wrapped around your (little) finger – during the Middle Ages

(AFR) Sy draai almal om haar vinger
(GER) Jemanden um den Finger wickeln
(ENG)To have someone wrapped around your (little) finger
(RO) Il are la degetul mic
Meaning: to exert total emotional control over someone, but without a lot of effort, to have someone under total control without no effort

This phrase ‘to have someone wrapped around your (little) finger’ is my favorite of these six idioms linguistically identical in Afrikaans, German, English, and Romanian – because of its origin. You see, it could originate in sewing or… falconry!

A seamstress would reel thread on her index finger, then draw out the yarn as needed in her sewing work – taking stock for later use.

In hawking, the hunter will have a leash tied to the bird’s foot. After the bird lands on their arm, the falconer would wind the leash around their little finger so the bird won’t take off again that easily.

hawking, a possible origin for the idiom 'To have someone wrapped around your (little) finger' - during the Middle Ages
Goshawk Falconry, Lord Lilford on Birds, 1903. Hutchinson & Co. – wikipedia

In writing, a 1743 letter appears in The Colonial Records of the State of Georgia could be the oldest known mention of the idiom ‘to have someone wrapped around your (little) finger’:

“Watson could wind Parker round his finger; yet he was ready to swear twas all false.”

The Colonial Records of the State of Georgia, 1743

5. To walk (tread) on eggshells – during the revolutionary 16th century

(AFR) Op eiers loop
(GER) Auf Eierschalen laufen
(ENG) To walk (tread) on eggshells
(RO) A calca / a merge ca pe ace
Meaning: to act cautiously as to not upset someone.

The oldest known written mention of ‘to walk (tread) on eggshells’ is in the 1591‘s translation of Ariosto’s ‘Orlando Furioso by Sir John Harington:

“So soft he treads, although his steps were wide,
As though to tread on eggs he were afraid.”

1591’s translation of Ariosto’s ‘Orlando Furioso by Sir John Harington

Surely, the expression is much older than that, dating from a time when humans would tread carefully looking for the places where (wild) hens and birds would have built a nest (or not) and hid their eggs.

Madonna-with-Child-Portal-of-the-Virgin-and-a-bird-nest-Notre-Dame-Cathedral-by-Lysandra-Furstenberg - To walk (tread) on eggshells - an idiom as old as the revolutionary 16th century
Madonna with Child, Portal of the Virgin and a bird’s nest, Paris Notre Dame Cathedral, Photo by Lysandra Furstenberg

6. To hang onto every word during the Industrial Revolution

(AFR) Aan iemand se lippe te hang
(GER) An jemandes Lippen hängen
(ENG) To hang on to (someone’s) every word / hung on her every utterance
(RO) A atarna de fiecare cuvant
Meaning: to listen very intently to someone.

I think this might be one of the youngest idioms in use, as it originated with the phrasal verb “hang on”, which came in use during the 19th century, when the cloth hangers were invented: 1860, hang on, meaning “to remain clinging.”

Although, here is a of beautiful quotes from the Bible, from Luke:

“and they could not find anything that they could do, for all the people [stayed close to Him and] were hanging on to every word”

The Bible, Luke 19:48

An idiom is a group of words that has a deeper, figurative meaning, other than its literal, word for word, denotation. But I think that an idiom also reflects the times when it surfaced, carrying even a minor historical aura around it.

Transylvania’s History A to Z: 100 Word Stories
Transylvania’s History A to Z: 100 Word Stories

I hope you enjoyed these 6 Idioms linguistically identical in Afrikaans, German, English and Romanian.

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Surprising Snow North of Karoo, a Christmas in July

Swartberg Pass near Karoo snow Christmas July South Africa

South Africans were gifted with surprising snow near Karoo, so I invite you to a Christmas in July with fresh images of snow, a Christmas tree from Bucharest and some magical doors for Thursday Doors.

While we enjoy a morning as sunny as an ice cream up here, near Pretoria, with temperatures of minus 1 degree Celsius (it is winter after all), further in the south of South Africa Antarctic pulses surprised us with snowfall.

These images were taken by members of our (very) extended South African family and we thank them for sharing the magic with us, special thanks to Cobus Pretorius.

Snow covering the road between Oudtshoorn and Swartberg Pass, South Africa, July 2021
Fresh snow covers the road between Oudtshoorn and Swartberg Pass, South Africa, July 2021

Oudtshoorn is a town in the Klein Karoo area of South Africa’s Western Cape, some 1200km south of Pretoria. Karoo is derived from the local Khoisan language, meaning ‘land of thirst.’

One would imagine that mermaids belong to the sea, and their legends are to be forever rocked by waves. It is not so.

Oudtshoorn Swartberg mountain pass snow July 2021 .jpg
Oudtshoorn Swartberg mountain pass snow July 2021

Mermaids, Watermeid, are said to inhabit ( have inhabited?) the rock pools between the Klein (Little) and Groot (Great) Karoo. That’s less than 50km from Oudtshoorn, and along the Meiringspoort mountain pass. Here, charming mermaids with alabaster hair cascading over their shoulders snatch, not lure, travelers, pulling them into their underground water holes. And ancient Khoi-San rock paintings still illustrate this legend .

Oudtshoorn pass snow July202

Further up to Swartberg Pass (Black Mountain Pass in Afrikaans) the road twists and turns, as these mountains mean business, shielding the Little Karoo to the north.

Swartberg Pass is located between Oudtshoorn in the south and Prince Albert in the north. This time, only the bravest shall pass through the foggy snowfall.

Swartberg Pass snow July South Africa
Swartberg Pass snow July South Africa

A car door covered by a layer of fluffy snow. Hard to resist the urge of tracing a Christmas tree on it, isn’t it?

Snow in South Africa
Snow in South Africa

It reminded me of a past winter holiday we spent in Sighisoara, Romania. Here, a century old house with a dragon emblem on it. I particularly like the glass bricks embedded in its door:

Another winding road, one that’s best to take on foot, as it snakes among medieval homes, and still standing (see the Historical Monument badge on the blue home?) in the upper fortress of Sighisoara:

And since we celebrate surprising snow over Karoo and a Christmas in July, here’s a Christmas tree from Bucharest:

Today the Palace of Agriculture and Domains, the edifice you see above and below was inaugurated in 1895 after the plans of Swiss architect Louis Pierre Blanc, the main building designed in the French Renaissance style. End of 19th century was a time of modernizing Bucharest.

The Palace of Agriculture and Domains, Bucharest
The Palace of Agriculture and Domains, Bucharest

I like this architect quite a bit as he also designed the main building of the University of Medicine and Pharmacy Carol Davila, Bucharest, where I studied (in a different lifetime). And a gorgeous place it is too – down to the basement where the dissection labs were buried.

thursday doors, 100 words story

For Dan Antion’s exciting Thursday Doors – weekly challenge for door lovers from all over the world hosted over on his incredible blog No Facilities.

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As always, discover my book on Amazon.

Why a Traveler Better be Watchful Near Apes

the ape and the travelers, an unusual fable

Ever found yourself a traveler in the land of apes? We found ourselves in a different kind of primate land once, holidaying in Durban, on the KwaZulu-Natal coast of the Indian Ocean. We were enjoying the ocean’s breeze coming through the open balcony door when with it in jumped a monkey! Bouncing from the neighboring tree onto the balcony ledge, then into the living room and up on the kitchen island where she picked her reward, a bunch of bananas!

Had she thanked us? I think she waved – her tail.

Better the bananas than the car keys nearby…

I do enjoy a fable every now and then, more so now as a grownup than I did during my childhood. And surely, if I will ever visit the land of apes I will make sure to think before I speak.

And how interesting to notice that medieval kings and modern day dictators have so much in common with the characters from The Ape and the Travelers – a clever, timeless fable, teaching us the value of choosing one’s words wisely.

The Ape and the Travelers, a clever fable

Two travelers and friends, lucky them, wanderers through the world and sharing many passions yet so different in looks, for one was tall, and one was short, one was chatty, one was quiet, one lied all the time, and one who only spoke the truth… such two travelers arrived at the Land of Apes.

Should we follow them from the safety of our chairs?

Wishing to welcome the strange travelers but also to mend his people’s reputation (for it had reached the King’s right ear that his nation was labelled as cunning and…  hairy), wishing thus, as well as desiring to learn more about the foreigners, the Ape King, who was a rather curious king, invited the tourists over to his palace.

So, with great chatter all around and rather pushed than transported, the two travelers were soon brought before the King of the Apes, as the custom was in the Land of Apes.

The King sat on his monarchic throne made of banana tree stumps, with banana leaves overhead for shade, and a soft pillow made of banana leaves stuffed with dry grass (the previous pillow, made from banana peels, had turned bad rather quickly), while two young apes fanned him with great banana branches. In front of his throne were two stumps, rather short, for words had also reached the King of Apes that the two travelers, or at least one, was tall…

So, finally seated in front of the King the travelers were handed two coconut drinks and then were asked, before they could even take a sip, for their opinion of the King Ape, first, and of his subjects, of course.

Why a Traveler Better be Watchful Near Apes
Francesco Ungaro

The one tourist, the untruthful traveler, nearly choked on his drink as he rushed to speak first. Some of the droplets even landed on the King of Apes’ fur. Yet the King just squeezed his eyes and kept quiet. Waiting eagerly. The traveler, while remaining seated (someone even gasped at this in the back of the great hall), praised the primate sovereign saying how powerful and impressive he thought him to be as a ruler. And he praised his subjects too, the monkeys, saying how worthy they were of their amazing, unique leader (he emphasized).

The Ape King was simply delighted, he even looked taller as he sat on his high throne, and he ordered that a fine gift be offered to the first traveler.

Then, with a big smile on his round face, he turned towards the second traveler who was rather enjoying his drink. Not even paying attention to what was happening around him, nor to the gift bestowed upon his friend.

All the apes in the throne room stopped their chatter at once(for they were following their king’s gaze), curious as they were to hear what the second visitor had to say.

So they waited, while the second human slurped his drink. And the Ape King smiled, but took a deep breath to calm himself.

Finally, drink finished, it was the second voyager’s turn to speak. He glanced left, towards the primates seated on tree trunks, he glanced right, towards the ones watching from the trees, and then he looked ahead, at the Ape King who was smiling so sweetly. And he thought, he thought to himself that if his friend had benefited by telling such tall stories, such fibs, such lies, he would benefit more by simply telling the truth.

For it made sense to him.

So he stood, for although an ape he was still in the presence of a king, he stood, bowed, and said, loud and clear, that he thought the king to be a great ape, and all his subjects to be great apes too.

Why a Traveler Better be Watchful Near Apes
mwangi gatheca

Oh, what a chatter, what yelling, what banter exploded all around while the Ape King bounced, hooted, grunted, and screamed in rage. Then he ordered that the second traveler (who couldn’t tell what he did wrong) be taken away and locked up in a cage made of banana tree sticks, and situated high up in the canopy.

For All to see. And learn. What not to do.

Moral of this story

Think before you speak. There are times when choosing your words wisely and being more tactful is more valuable than what we say or don’t say. (I know, harder said than done).

Copyright © Patricia Furstenberg. All Rights Reserved.

Did you know? Monkeys and apes are not the same

The quickest way to tell the difference between a monkey and an ape is by the presence or absence of a tail. Almost all monkeys have tails; apes do not. Yet both monkeys and apes are primates.

A chimpanzee, baboon, or orangutan are all apes.
Mandrill or Rhesus are types of monkeys.
Apes are larger and much heavier than monkeys.

The Chimp and the Dog, Patricia Furstenberg

When two animals with different looks meet at a waterhole they don’t think twice about how different they are… in height, color, fur, shape of face or size of tummy… they become friends.
The Chimp and the Dog.

South African Oscar Winners & Nominees Over The Years

South African Oscar winners nominees history

Welcome to South African Oscar Winners & Nominees Over The Years, an evocative timeline of why we are Proudly South African, apart from our legends, our landscapes, our national parks, and so much more. Nkosi sikelele Africa. God bless Africa.

This post was initially published on March 2nd 2017, updated and republished on 25 April 2021 (last update 26 April).

South African Oscar Winners & Nominees Over The Years

South Africans should take special note on the night of the 93rd Academy Awards, 2021, as some of this country’s finest, Pippa Ehrlich, James Reed (writers and directors) and Craig Foster (Host & Founder of Sea Change Project), are in the run for the Best Documentary (Feature) category with “My Octopus Teacher“.

Documentary Feature 2021 Oscar WINNER “My Octopus Teacher”

My Octopus Teacher” Trailer:

Having already won the BAFTA for Best Documentary at the 74th British Academy Film Awards, My Octopus Teacher will be among the favorites in its category, and will have to prove itself better than Collective, by Romanians Alexander Nanau and Bianca Oana.


This is not the first time South Africa has had representation at the Academy Awards. Over the years, many South Africans have graced the Oscars red carpet, both as nominees and winners, proof of this country’s deep-rooted talent as well as a good eye for the arts.

Proud South African Oscar wins, nominations and submissions throughout the years

1937 (the 9th Academy Awards Ceremony) – Basil Rathbone (South African born British actor) – Nominated for Best Supporting Actor, Romeo and Juliet

1938 – Basil Rathbone – Nominated for Best Supporting Actor, If I Were King

1966 – Ted Moore (South African born cinematographer) – WON the first South African Oscar for A Man For All Seasons.

1972 – Janet Suzman (University of the Witwatersrand’s Alumni) – Nominated for Best Actress, Nicholas and Alexandra

1986 – Caiphus Semenya (South African composer and musician)Nominated for Best Music, Original Score, The Color Purple

1988 – Jonas Gwangwa (important figure in South African jazz for over 40 years) Nominated for Best Music, Original Score, and Best Music, Original Song, Cry Freedom

IFrame1990 (the 62nd Academy Awards Ceremony) Mapantsula (Zulu, Afrikaans, Sesotho, English), Director Oliver Schmitz – Submitted for Best Foreign Language Film. It appeared on the official AMPAS ( Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences ) press release in 1989 but not on the 2007 updated list. Therefore Paljas is considered as South Africa’s official first submission in the Best Foreign Language Film category. It is possible that Mapantsula, although submitted,has not been screened for the Foreign Film committee for some reason.

1992 – Stephen Goldblatt (South African born), Best Cinematography – The Prince of Tides, nominated.

1996 – Stephen Goldblatt (South African born), Best Cinematography – Batman Forever, nominated.

1997 Paljas (Afrikaans) – Director Katinka Heyns – Submitted for Best Foreign Language Film

2003 – Charlize Theron (a Benoni born South African and American actress and film producer ) – WON Best Actress, the first South African actress to ever win an Oscar, for Monster

Charlize Theron’s 2003 Oscar Win acceptance speech:

IFrameI’m going to thank everybody in South Africa, my home country… And my mom.

2003 – Ronald Harwood (Cape Town-born playwright) – WON for Best Adapted Screenplay, The Pianist Harwood’s love for the theatre and films started when he was a child and his mother took him to the theatre in Cape Town.

2004 Yesterday (the first ever feature-length isiZulu film), Director Darrell Roodt Nominated for Best Foreign Language Film

2005 – Charlize Theron – Nominated for Best Actress, North Country

2005 (78th Academy Awards Ceremony) – Tsotsi – WON Best Foreign Language Film. It was the first non-French-language African film to win in this category.

IFrameGavin Hood’s Oscar acceptance speech for Tsotsi, which he directed:

Nkosi sikelele Africa. God bless Africa.

Our stories … are about the human heart and emotion.

2009 Jerusalema (Afrikaans, English, Zulu, Sotho), Director Ralph Ziman – Submitted for Best Foreign Language Film

2010 White Wedding (Zulu, Xhosa, Afrikaans, English), Director Jann Turner – Submitted for Best Foreign Language Film

2010 District 9, Director Neill Blomkamp (South African–Canadian film director, film producer, screenwriter, and animator) – Nominated for Best Picture and Adapted Screenplay (Neill Blomkamp, Terri Tatchell)

District 9, Official Trailer:

2011 Life, Above All (in Northern Sotho), Director Oliver Schmitz – Submitted for Best Foreign Language Film, made the January Shortlist. Life, Above All received 10-minutes standing ovations at its world premiere at the 63rd Cannes International Film Festival.

2012 Beauty (Afrikaans), Director Oliver Hermanus – Submitted for Best Foreign Language Film

“Beauty“, Official Trailer:

2013 – Herbert Kretzmer (South African-born English journalist and lyric writer) Nominated for Best Music, Original Song for Les Misérables, song “Suddenly” (together with Alain Boublil and Claude-Michel Schönberg)

2013 Little One (Zulu), Director Darrell Roodt – Submitted for Best Foreign Language Film

2014 Four Corners (Afrikaans), Director Ian Gabriel – Submitted for Best Foreign Language Film

2015 Elelwani (Venda), Director Ntshavheni wa Luruli – Submitted for Best Foreign Language Film

2016 – Margaret Sixel (South African-born, Australian film editor )WON Best Film Editing, Mad Max: Fury Road

2016– “The Two of Us” (isiZulu) – directed by Ernest Nkosi – Submitted for Best Foreign Language Film.

2017 (89th Academy Awards) – “Noem My Skollie (Call Me Thief), (Afrikaans) – directed by Daryne Joshua – Submitted for Best Foreign Language Film.

Noem My Skollie producer, Moshidi Motshegwa, said referring the support the cast and crew received at home : “The greatest affirmation an artist can get is from their own tribe. We are ecstatic to have this affirmation!”

2018 Revolting Rhymes, directed by Jakob Schuh and Jan Lachauer., Best Animated Short Film, Nominated. Revolting Rhymes is an adaptation of Roald Dahl’s and Quentin Blake’s classic fairy-tale book of the same name. It was produced by Magic Light Pictures and animated by Magic Light’s Berlin studio along with Cape Town-based Triggerfish Animation.

2019 – Charlize Theron, “Bombshell” – Best Actress in a Leading Role. Nominated.

2021 My Octopus Teacher, Pippa Ehrlich, James Reed (writers and directors) and Craig Foster – Best Documentary, Nominated. Good luck!

Even if no Oscar is brought home, what matters are the passion and dedication of each actor, director, make-up artist, costume designer, editor, of the entire crew backing-up a motion picture which puts South Africa, proudly, on the Academy Awards map once again.

Initially wrote for the Huffington Post SA in 2017 and updated in 2018, published on 13 February 2018, republished on my blog on 24 April 2021.

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