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Twee Fischers, twee dramas: <i>Die geheime Bloemfontein-konferensie (1938) en Die Bram Fischer-wals</i<> (2011)

M Keuris


Two Fischers, two plays: Die geheime Bloemfontein-konferensie [The secret Bloemfontein conference] (1938) and Die Bram Fischer waltz (2011)

There is no better example within Afrikaner history where different generations of the same family played such extraordinary roles in the course of important historical events for the Afrikaner as well as for South Africa than those of the Fischer family. The name Bram Fischer is well known within more recent history, due to his role as the leader of the legal defence team during the Rivonia trial where prominent political figures, including Nelson Mandela, were tried on several charges including high treason. He is also remembered for his own sensational trial in 1966 where he was branded a traitor by the Afrikaner  establishment. Bram’s grandfather, Abraham Fischer, played an important role in the history of the Free State, by being the first premier of the then Orange River colony. He was also known for his role as mediator and translator at the so-called “secret Bloemfontein conference” of 31 May–6 June 1899, where President Kruger unsuccessfully tried to reach a compromise with Sir Alfred Milner—an agreement which could have prevented the Anglo Boer War that followed shortly afterwards. I provide a comparative  discussion of the two plays written in Afrikaans about the two Fischers, namely the one about the   grandfather, Abraham Fischer (Die geheime Bloemfontein-konferensie [The secret Bloemfontein  conference] by Dr. W. J. B. Pienaar in 1938),  and Harry Kalmer’s The Bram Fischer waltz (2011) about the grandson. The secret Bloemfontein conference will be discussed as an example of a documentary  drama, while The Bram Fischer waltz will be analysed as an example of a biographical drama.

Keywords: Afrikaner history, Afrikaans plays, Abraham Fischer (Orange River Colony Premier), Bram Fischer (defence lawyer), documentary drama, biographical drama.