J. Francois Barnard – October 2016
After my first year in the South African Army, I was well-versed in Army Lingo. My first language is Afrikaans. But having been in an English church since my tenth birthday, I could manage myself well in English, too. Add to that the Army Fanagalo and a little bit of an English accent, and you can even fool a hardened Red Neck from Bez Valley.
In the canteen, I overheard a conversation amongst my English-speaking comrades. They were disgusted with how unfair life in the Army was and how a specific Afrikaans NCO messed them around.
“That bloody Rock Spider!” one exclaimed.
The others agreed. The staff sergeant was a Rock Spider. Then, another one would join in to belittle the man behind his back, and this carried on for some time.
I attended the Afrikaanse Hoër Seunskool, and on the other side of the railway line was the Pretoria Boys High School. Some were friends, and some were foes. Some called me a Rock Spider as I rode my bike home.
Sometimes, skirmishes would occur, but never too serious. So, by the time I was standing in that canteen, I was mildly amused by this conversation.
“Rock Spider, you say?” As if I did not understand.
“Yes, Corporal, Afrikaner to the core. I cannot stand him!”
“So if I tell you that I am an Afrikaner, you will call me a Rock Spider too?”
They were all stunned into silence.
“Nooit*, Corporal! You are not Afrikaans-speaking!”
I laughed and turned around.
“Bloody Red Necks!”
*Nooit – Afrikaans for “Never”