Nicolette Writes

Professional Freelance Writer and Stay-at-Home Mom

Archive for the month “November, 2011”

DCMA – Deaf Christian Ministry Africa (Published in TODAY Magazine)


Today journalist Nicolette Ferreira visits Deaf Christian Ministry Africa, a training facility for Deaf ministers who long to be God’s signing hands in this world.

Published: Today Magazine

“We can do anything but hear, so treat us as normal beings”. This outcry led to the establishment of the National Institute for the Deaf (NID) in South Africa. Founded in Worcester in 1881, NID is a registered and accredited Non-Profit-Organisation and its vision is to develop the full potential of all Deaf and hard-of-hearing people. There are approximately 412 421 Deaf people (they prefer being referred to as Deaf with an uppercase ‘D’) and approximately 1 237 264 extremely hard-of-hearing people in South Africa (hereafter the latter is also included in my references to the ‘Deaf’).

Christ for the Deaf by the Deaf

One of the very unique courses at NID is Deaf Christian Ministry Africa (DCMA), established in 2006. Its vision is Jesus Christ for the Deaf by the Deaf, with a specific focus on Africa. The most valuable way to reach the Deaf with Christ’s message is to train the Deaf themselves as pastors. And how will the Deaf hear about the Creator if it is not ‘spoken’ to them in their own language and culture?

DCMA trains students in a deaf-friendly way (through Sign Language, of which there is, do note, not just one standardised version!) to plant churches and to counsel and minister to Deaf communities in Sign Language, all within the structures of the different church denominations. The syllabus at DCMA consists of material from Veritas College International and the course is presented over four years. These students are eventually placed, as ordained ministers or pastors, at organisations and churches who are willing to be involved in the world of the Deaf. I had the privilege of meeting the ‘hearing head’ of DCMA, Reverend Jan Oberholzer (, as well as the Deaf dominees in training!

Student Anthony Salie opened our interview with a prayer in Sign Language. This reminded me of one of the earliest references to this language in the Bible: “Then they made signs to his father, to find out what he would like to name the child” (Luke 1:62). Unlike the case of John’s naming by his father, Zechariah, we definitely had no time to use “writing tablets” and the ever calm and kind Reverend Jan was there to translate!

Signs for Africa

Over a casual ‘conversation’ (which consisted of me talking too fast, gesticulating nervously, and naively announcing that I just want to switch on the voice recorder – silly, silly me), the ministers-in-training before me shared their dreams for DCMA: They have recently completed an extensive missionary tour to the Northern and Eastern Cape, Freestate and Kwazulu-Natal and would like to expand such outreaches to other African countries. Colette Gouws wants to develop material for persons who are both deaf and blind, so that they too can grow in a relationship with Christ.

Amazing! Have you ever thought about how Jesus’ story is told to the deaf and blind? Another student, Elsabé Döman, has already developed material to help deaf children and their parents (contact Elsabé at for information on a charming DVD entitled “Bybelstories vir Dowe Kinders”). Student Rensie Aggenbach has a heart for music for the Deaf, an interesting concept which I cannot yet fully grasp: He has printed a music book with deaf-friendly words!

The blessing of Deaf-friendly Christian material only really struck me on my way home after the interview while I was tapping my fingers on the steering wheel to the beat of Michael W. Smith. As a hearing person I have many opportunities for growth in my walk with Christ: I can listen to a Beth Moore DVD, listen to Tree63 or attend a sermon by Bruce Marciano. At the recent Angus Buchan’s Mighty Men Conference there were 300 Deaf people (including three of the students at DCMA). Are there enough such opportunities for the Deaf in South Africa?

NID Serving God's Deaf Children

Hennie Burger explains that, although conferences with translators for the Deaf are noble ideas, in reality it is very hard for them to follow the impassioned, spirit-filled and consequently fast-talking speaker. Translation is also tricky: our ‘hearing language’ is completely different to the language of the Deaf (which Phumie Jemane assures me is not Bobbejanetaal!). The Deaf see in pictures and for them our language is very abstract: with translation something gets lost. The students at DCMA ask that people like Angus will go to them! “We want to be a part of what is going on in the hearing world.” As we plan Outreaches in our own churches, may we nOt forget about the salvation and spiritual growth of thE Deaf.

Some questions answered

Dear Today reader, I wish I could share everything I learned from my new Deaf friends in Christ with you over a piece of chocolate cake! Here are just a few questions I asked:

Q: Is it true that your other senses become strengthened when one is taken away? What is your experience of music?

A: Yes! We cannot hear someone enteRing a room, but we can smell that person (hmmm, I wonder what they smelled when I came in… it must have been the chocolate log I had for breakfast!) Concerning music: we can feel the vibrations, but cannot form a concept of sound – no hip-hop, no blues or classical music (and no snoring or chatting after lights out!)

Q: What would you like to hear?

A: Soothing sounds like music and birds. Phumie confidently stated: “Nothing! There is nothing I would like to hear, I hear God’s voice and that is all I need.” Awesome!

Q: What stupid things do hearing people do? (Besides saying goodbye in your ear like I did to Elsabé before I left!)

A: They call us on our cellphones – especially the banks. Of course we can email and sms, but what must we hear when we pick up the phone? We also often stand in queues for a very long time, as we cannot hear our names being called out.

Q: How can people be more ‘Deaf-conscious’?

A: When struggling to speak to a Deaf or hard-of-hearing person, please don’t say ‘never mind’! Do take the time to try and communicate with us – we are not stupid! Use your hands to explain, talk slowly and calmly, but don’t form your mouth in a funny way – talk normally (I’m pretty sure I didn’t do this!). Also remember that just because someone is Deaf, it does not mean he or she cannot speak (although it might be in a different way to what we are used to) – deaf and numb are two seperate things (unlike vinkel en koljander!)

I end this article with a prayer that I hope you will all pray with me: God, may there be, in every church on the face of Africa, in my own church, at least one person with a heart for the Deaf and hard-of-hearing. And may we, as DCMA student Jaco van Wyk so beautifully put it, build unyielding bridges between the hearing and the Deaf.

NID Ministry

How can we get involved?
1) Do you have contacts in Africa? Help DCMA to get connected so that they can spread the message of our Saviour to those who cannot hear.
2) Invite the Deaf to your church services, build relationships and open your doors!
3) Go to for more information and find out how you can contribute financially.

Afrikaners is TE SOENIG DOENIG!

Afrikaners is plesierig… en te ‘soenig’…

“Kom groet vir oom Johan, kleinsus!” en voor jy kan keer plak ’n ‘wild vreemde’ oom met ’n snor ’n papnat soen op jou mond. Eeeeek!! Hierdie Afrikaanse tradisie is nou net vir my niks cools nie. Dis NIE ‘an’ NIE! Om die waarheid te sê, ek vind dit totaal en al inappropriate (om nou ’n Engelse woord te gebruik).

Ek praat natuurlik nou nie hier van ’n bloed ma, pa, boet en sus soen-groet nie – dis nog als in orde. Maar vir die res… ’n Mens se mond, en ’n soen, is tog iets baie intiems? Vanwaar die gesoenery? Toemaar, ek wil nie regtig weet nie – ek is seker daar is ’n baie pragtige en noble rede en geskiedenis daaragter. Ek gee nie om vir die ‘wang-wang’ soen nie, maar die feit dat ek iemand op die mond moet soen net omdat dit my skoonsuster se man of ’n tweede man van my tannie is, is net VERKEERD!

Toe ek klein was het ek maar die soengroet-ding gedoen, anders het ek raas gekry. Maar nou is ek groot genoeg om vir myself te besluit wat sin maak en wat nie, en alhoewel baie Afrikaanse tradisies pragtig en lieflik is, is hierdie ene een wat ek nie gaan help bou nie. Ek draai sommer by voorbaat my wang weg en gaan in vir ’n duidelike drukkie (ek het natuurlik ook ’n ding of twee te sê oor die hele drukkie kultuur, maar laat ek nie nou daarop ingaan nie).

My vriendinne, ek is baie lief vir julle en julle beteken vir my die wêreld, maar vir julle wil ek ook nie graag op die mond soen nie! ’n Smiley-face met rooi soentjie-lippe of sterretjies op jou selfoon is die enigste soen wat jy by my gaan kry! 😀

Wanneer mansvriende in beweeg vir ’n soen wil ek ook sommer sê, met ’n lekker Afro-American-sister aksent: ‘Hello! Excuse me, married girl here! This lady is taken!’ Nat lippe teen mekaar… nee kyk, as dit nie my man se lippe is nie – UH-UH! ‘What are you thinking?!’ Jy kom nie naby my lippe nie!

Ek sal ook nie eendag aan my kinders hierdie tradisie leer nie. ’n Drukkie of handskud is meer as genoeg. Is dit nie aardig daai oomblik wat jy familie ontmoet of iewers raakloop en daar volg so awkward oomblik waar jy nie regtig weet of die persoon gaan ingaan vir ’n soen of nie? Gewoonlik eindig dit op in so ongemaklike kant-van-die-wang slash lip soen en twee mense wat baie simpel voel (want iemand het gedog dis ’n drukkie en die ander ene het gedog dit gaan ’n soen wees…).

Wel, hier is geen onduidelikheid van my kant af nie – tensy jy my man, my suster, my pa, my ma of my skoonma is, kry jy nie ’n soen by MY nie!!

Soengroete ;-P


Tessa: ‘Kan ek darem ene kry?’ Uh-uh!!

The Representation of Black People in Die Huisgenoot, 1960s

[Please note: this extract should not be read as an attack on Die Huisgenoot or YOU as we know them today. It forms part of a thesis that compares the way in which black women were represented in South African white women’s magazines of the 1960s to the way in which black women were represented in Grace and The Townships Housewife (two South African black women’s magazines from the 1960s). The aim is to show the significance of the latter two magazines in a time where black women were unrepresented, especially in a positive way, in the South African media. If you would like to know more about Grace and The Townships Housewife, let me know – I should be the person who knows the most about these two mags, as my work is the only research ever done on them ;-D

The Representation of Black People in Die Huisgenoot

(Short extract from my thesis, ‘Grace and The Townships Housewife: Excavating South African Black Women’s Magazines from the 1960s.’ – Nicolette Ferreira)

Cover page. The Townships Housewife, March 1968.

The black South African, especially the black South African woman, is almost entirely absent in Die Huisgenoot of the 1960s. Black people, and mostly only black men, appear in Die Huisgenoot of the 1960s only in a domesticated form as happy and contented servants (Van Robbroeck “Visual”) or as ‘uncivilised’ creatures of nature. As an unhappy (possibly black) reader of Die Huisgenoot states in a letter to the editor in 1968:

Baie nie-blankes lees Die Huisgenoot…Hoekom verskyn daar nie artikels oor belowende nie-blanke boksers (sportmanne en akteurs) nie? – Historikus, Windhoek.

Many non-whites read Die Huisgenoot…Why are there no articles on promising boxers (sportsmen and actors)? – Historicist, Windhoek (26 July: 6; my translation).

Note that black women are excluded in this plea for black acknowledgement.

Die Huisgenoot, 12 Feb. 1954

Die Huisgenoot of 1964-1968, represents black South Africans as unintelligent. The regular comedy feature, ‘Huisgenotjies’ (“home enjoyment”), contains jokes and comics that often portray the slow-witted black person, reminiscent of the black minstrel. Here is just one such example about a black female domestic worker:

Meraai moes vir die goudvissies water in die bak gooi, maar sy het nie. “Het ek jou dan nie gevra om die bak vol te hou nie?” vra haar werkgeefster kwaai. “Dja, Mies,” antwoord Meraai, “…ma’ hulle het noggie eers die water ytgadrink wat ek gister ingagooi het nie.”

Meraai had to fill up the water level for the goldfishes, but she didn’t. “Didn’t I ask you to keep the bowl full?” asked her employer. “Yes, Madam,” Meraai answered, “but they haven’t even finished drinking the water I poured in yesterday.” (9 Oct. 1964: 63)

Die Huisgenoot does not only show black South Africans in positions inferior to whites – as domestic workers, gardeners or farm workers – it also depicts them as incapable of doing their jobs.

The black in Die Huisgenoot is, moreover, decidedly not beautiful. The magazine shows black people as old and wrinkly, and uses derogatory terms in reference to them. The following joke appears in the “Huisgenotjies” of 26 August 1966:

’n Man sien ’n Bantoetjie aan ’n groot waatlemoen eet en sê: “Jong, maar dis mos te veel waatlemoen!” Bantoetjie: “Nog nooit nie, baas, dis te min kaffer!”

A man sees a little Bantu eating a big watermelon and says: “Isn’t that too much watermelon?!” The little Bantu replies: “Never baas, it’s too little kaffir!”

This extract shows the apartheid construction of the inferior black and the superior white through the reference to ‘baas’ and ‘kaffer’. A regular comic in Die Huisgenoot by Doc Immelman and Johan van Niekerk also emphasises the ‘otherness’ of the black person: in “Uys Barnard en die krokodille van Oshipala”, a black man that appears in the comic is a “vreemde verrimpelde ou inboorling” (“a strange, wrinkly old native”; my translation) (9 Oct. 1964: 77). The white woman in this comic who sees this man exclaims: “Hy…lyk vreeslik!” (“He looks terrible!”; my translation).

Die Huisgenoot, 24 April 1953

Die Huisgenoot represents black South Africans as incapable of achieving what is perceived, according to Western (white) standards, as ‘civilisation’. In Die Huisgenoot of 4 December 1964 an article appears on black political leaders in Africa: the photos show them in suit and tie and driving expensive cars. The writer states that

[a]l die aandpakke en Cadillacs is in Afrika glad nie ter sake nie. Omdat Afrika nog die oerwoud is.

all the suits and Cadillacs are irrelevant in Africa. Because Africa is still the jungle/ primeval. (88; my translation)

Die Huisgenoot, 7 Aug. 1953

The writer ends this article by asking: “Wat kan mens ook van ’n man verwag wat uit ’n kokospalm geval en in ’n Cadillac te lande gekom het?” (“What more can you expect of a man who fell from a coconut palm tree and landed in a Cadillac?”; my translation).

In the post-apartheid South African context, the term coconut is a derogatory term used to refer to a person who is black but speaks like “a white person”, who chooses to speak English rather than an African language, or is unable to speak an African language, and who is considered to “act white” or to be “black on the outside but white on the inside” (McKinney qtd. in Spencer). Considering that this use of the term is a post-apartheid one, the writer of the article in Die Huisgenoot is clearly using the reference to coconut in a different way, yet there is a peculiar resemblance in the derogatory content of both. In contrast to Carolyn McKinney’s explanation of the black who is, on the inside, essentially white, the Die Huisgenoot writer paints the picture of a baboon falling out of the tree – of black people being backward with only the surface appearance of civility (the man in the Cadillac here representing a black skin in a white mask, as opposed to being black on the outside and white on the inside as the current usage of the coconut image suggests).

All articles that appear in Die Huisgenoot from 1964 to 1968 concerning black people locate them in the desert or a jungle-like milieu, often in the bare minimum clothing. One such example representative of this type of article is “Die dans van die Luislang” (“The dance of the python”; my translation) (12 Aug. 1966). This article concerns the initiation practices of young black men and women and is reminiscent of apartheid’s re-tribalising attempts. Other similar examples appear in Die Huisgenoot of 7 September 1966 in an article on black people in the Okavango (42-43), and in Die Huisgenoot of 30 September 1966 on Botswana (42-49).


Die Huisgenoot (1964-1968)

Grace (October 1964-December 1966)

The Townships Housewife (February 1968-March 1969)

Spencer, Lynda. “Young, Black and Female in Post-Apartheid South Africa: Kopano Matlwa’s Coconut.” Seminar Paper. University of Stellenbosch, August 2008.

Van Robbroeck, Lize. “Beyond the Tradition/ Modernity Dialectic: African Nationalist Subjectivities in South African Print and Visual Culture of the Early Twentieth Century.” Cultural Studies 22.2 (2008): 209-33.

– – – . “Visual Culture and South African Nationalism.” Transitions and Translations: Africa in the Global Imaginary Colloquim. Stellenbosch University, August 2008.

Vision Magazine Cover Story

Check out Vision Magazine this month (November) – I wrote the cover story!


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