Friday, 9 February 2018
09. MORE UN-PC PECCADILLOES
With hindsight it proved that, a few years later, my next choice of favourite shortwave broadcaster was also most politically incorrect! My aim had been to pick up Springbok Radio in Afrikaans, because it is a language that is easy to understand for speakers of Dutch. That proved no simple matter, as these broadcasts were for domestic consumption only and not directed towards Europe. So I had to settle for Radio RSA broadcasting in Dutch from Johannesburg. In spite of the fact that it was the mouthpiece of the apartheid regime I was fascinated by the station. So much so that I collected titbits of radio news in a stencilled magazine called ‘Bokmakierie Express’. The name referred to the unique species of yellow, green and grey coloured ‘bush-shrike’, a bird native to Southern Africa. Even to this day, when I hear the loud melodious song of the Bokmakierie mixed, as it was, with RSA’s station call "Ver in die Wêreld Kitty", it still makes the hairs on my arms stand on end.
Some years after that, in 1970, even a Radio RSA listening group was formed during a get together in Utrecht. Most of us were in fact fans of ‘De puntjes op de X’, RSA’s dx-programme presented by Chris Uitzinger (1926-2006). Not to be outdone by the Dutch, a year later a garden party was organized in Belgium, at the home of antenna-specialist Hubert Carton in Loppem, near Bruges. As South-African officials were going to be present at this do, I popped in at the embassy in Brussels. The group wanted to make sure, that whoever was going to put in an appearance at our meeting, was well aware that our love of Radio RSA did by no means extend to the racist policies of the South African government. Having delivered this message, the Embassy’s chargé pointed to the corner of his office and told me to “pick up the stick” that stood there. “Surely, he’s not going to beat me” I thought. Seeing that I was reluctant to follow his order, he added “walk with it”. Later the chargé explained that the artfully carved walking stick had belonged to Paul Kruger (1825-1904) the first president of the South African Republic (Transvaal) and the face of Boer resistance against the British. The walking stick, called a kierie in Afrikaans, was on its way back to RSA, having been on display at an exhibition in The Netherlands.
As it happens, it was on Radio RSA, that my voice first hit the airwaves. In November 1969, at the studio of RSA-member Izaak De Kramer in Tongeren, we both recorded season’s greetings for the X-mas edition of Chris Uitzinger’s DX-programme. It was weird to subsequently hear one’s voice filter through the static from half a world away. Soon however even more outlandish things were waiting in the wings. But first, I had to wade through a few more acres of shortwave real estate.