Lessons learned from South African artists + my roadtrip

My family – myself, husband and our nine month old baby – drove from Johannesburg to Cape Town for a few gigs (shows and workshops).

My husband is a musician and composer.

This roadtrip is taking place mainly because he is connecting with some fans and business colleagues.

Our trip started 15 September 2016 and it’s about three weeks long.

His gigs included a show in Wellington at the Digterstuin (a poetry garden event), a workshop for learners at Bellville South High, and entertainment for Suiderland Plase awards ceremony at Landtscap.

So far the road trip has been good. We could visit a few family and friends along the way.

I got a bit of a break away from cooking (yay, mommy victory dance). I especially enjoyed eating curry bunnies and the occasional braai meat. I also had a few minutes to myself whenever family members wanted to bond with the Princess.

I got to attend one of my cousins’ 21st party. This included tasting her chocolate cake. She had made the cake two days before the party. Her trick to keep the cake moist was to pour (already made) coffee over the cake.

Sadly, some of the gigs were cancelled. This meant less income on our trip.

Again, I could not visit all our family members or friends, especially due to lack of funds. Sorry my people.

I didn’t think this was funny when the following happened, but it’s a sort of funny story:

I watched an American movie with one of my cousins. Husband comes in and asks what is the movie’s name.
Cousin replies: This Christmas
Husband: But these people are not talking Afrikaans.
I realised he was joking because “This Christmas” sounds like “Dis Krismis”.
My reply: Christmas isn’t even an Afrikaans word. It’s Kersfees.
Often though we Afrikaners write Christmas as slang Afrikaans “krismis”.

I thought of husband’s friend Loit Sols when the above incident happened. Loit is a poet. He writes his poetry in goema Afrikaans (also known as Kaaps Afrikaans).

Loit and husband (Leslie Javan) facilitated a workshop for learners on Tuesday 27 September in Bellville South.

Their aim was to teach the learners about creative writing especially songwriting.

I learned the following about:

Make mistakes. For example, Loit told the learners that his way of writing words, especially since it’s goema, does not seem correct in standard Afrikaans terms.

His advice: “Don’t worry about your spelling of words. If you worry about that, you will never finish writing your story. The important thing is to tell your story.”

He added: “There are editors to rewrite or perfect your spelling (or paraphrasing your story).

Good writers look for the obvious. Sometimes the obvious are not seen to you, because you become used to your surroundings.

For instance, if you walk to school or work every day, most surroundings or things around you, become obvious (and unnoticeable).

Learners/ young people need interactive teaching.

I spoke to a former teacher at the workshop and he said role playing is important when teaching children (or conveying your message).

Instead of telling your learners or audience what you are going to teach, rather let them do role playing and find out for themselves, he said.

It also helps to do a “needs assessment” before doing a workshop.

When you have the right partner, a collaboration is good for business and self-development. Husband and Loit complimented each other whenever they did a show or workshop together.

I have two questions for you :
Have you ever been on a roadtrip?
What’s the most memorable advice you received relating to the skills you are passionate about?

Thank you for reading!


  1. Hi Mel

    Dis altyd lekker om jou blogs te lees. Laat my asseblief toe om te reageer.
    As skrywer het ek eers laat besef dat dit natuurlik is om foute te maak en dat daar ander mense is wie jou foute kan regmaak. Dit moet jou nooit agterhou nie! Ek het ook geleer dat die eerste draft van n teks maarnet n verwysing is en nie perfek hoef te wees nie. Jammer ek kon dit nie vroeër in my loopbaan leer. Om te skryf is n wonderlike ervaring, meeste van die tye n eensame pad gestap deur skrywer en karakter. Mens leer baie van jouself en nog meer by jou karakters. Ja! Jou karakters wys jou die pad, jy hoef net te volg en die storie wat hulle jou vertel oorvertel aan jou gehoor.

    Ek is bly Les en Loit het n paar werkswinkels saamgedoen. Die woorde wat tussen daardie twee manne le is diep en verrykend. Ek studeer graag Les se werk en is altyd verstom deur die eenvoud in sy lirieke. Maar dis die kompleksiteit van die musiek toonsetting( chords en goed waarvan ek nie weet nie) wat myself en menigte ander roer. Sy styl is nie “mainstream” nie, maar baie gehore vind aanklang by die eerlikheid. Dit het ek eerstehands in Oudtshoorn gesien. Baie mense het hulle tot sy musiek bekeer en ek was happy!

    Om Loit se Goema gedigte en Afrikaaps-styl van skryf te verstaan moet mens seker n bietjie van n Kaapse agtergrond het. Tog as jy die taal van sy hoogdrawendheid stroop lees sy gedigte maklik en lekker. Afrikaaps is n taal in sy eie reg en dis die non-pretensieuse wyse waarop Loit skryf en selfs leef wat hom tot bo ander hedendaagse digters verhewe.

    Hierdie is twee besonderse mense. Nie net omdat hulle my vriende is nie, maar omdat hulle vreesloos grense verskyf en ons taal vorentoe dryf op n onkonvensionele en aweregse manier.

  2. Thank you Ricardo for your insight. You say your characters make it happen (Jou karakters wys jou die pad, jy hoef net te volg en die storie wat hulle jou vertel oorvertel aan jou gehoor) and shows you the way. I would like you to write for me sometime about your writing process as fictional writer. Hopefully soon? 🙂

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