Hybrid self–(re)presentation in the diaries of Hennie Aucamp

  • Jihie Moon University of Foreign Studies, Seoul, South Korea


This article on Hennie Aucamp approaches his journals as ego-documents. The positional dilemma and identity crisis of Afrikaners in the new South Africa are portrayed in the triptych: Gekaapte tyd (Captured time, 1996), Allersiele (All Souls, 1997) and Skuinslig (Light at Dusk, 2003). Aucamp’s journals constitute a hybrid composite that bridges the space between a personal reflection on daily life and that of a historical, social and cultural document. Through the complex process of disguise and revelation of the “I”, Aucamp’s diaries create a space that allows free contemplation and reflection both on the socio-cultural developments in the new South Africa and on the fate of Afrikaners and Afrikaans itself. It is from his feeling of displacement and expatriation as a white Afrikaner under the new system and his fear of the disappearance of Afrikaners and Afrikaans that Aucamp positions himself as a defender of Afrikaner culture. Moreover, Aucamp claims that this cultural legacy could be used as future-oriented survival strategy: the preservation of culture being simultaneously self-preservation. It is within this framework that he makes a subtle comparison between Afrikaans and Afrikaner culture and the culture of the San; his affinity for the lost culture of the San runs parallel with his defence of the world of Afrikaners. This has resulted in the writer’s socio-cultural criticisms and commentaries in a certain sense becoming a personal performance in favour of the recreation of a lost Afrikaner language and culture. At the same time, they il- lustrate the writer’s attempt to position himself strategically with regard to the future-oriented formation of identity—not only of himself, but also of the reader. It is within this context that the increase in ego-documents written in modern-day South African and Afrikaner literature can also be seen as a struggle against loss and forgetting.  Keywords: Afrikaner, autobiography, diary, ego-document,  Hennie  Aucamp,  life  writing.

Research articles