“We who cannot speak lived there first”: A new claim to land in My plaas se naam is Vergenoeg by George Weideman
My plaas se naam is Vergenoeg (“My farm’s name is Vergenoeg [‘Far Enough’]”, 2005), a published play by George Weideman, is meaningful within the context of postcolonial discourse on land ownership and ecocritical views on the use of land. The play adds viewpoints to current postcolonial claims to land through several animal characters laying claim to being the first inhabitants, further commenting critically on man’s greed and destructiveness with regard to the earth. This article undertakes an analysis of the play, firstly investigating the messages of these non-human voices, rarely remembered or heard in the historical constructions of South Africa’s past. It focuses on Weideman’s blending of aspects of different genres and periods, the animal epic and classical Greek tragedy, resulting in a powerful downplay of man’s claim to sole ownership of the land. The study, secondly, considers the notion of landscape as defined by animals’ ways of inhabiting and interaction, in addition to the notion of landscape as a cultural construct that is traditionally defined by man’s ways of inhabiting and interaction.
Keywords: Afrikaans drama literature, anthropomorphism, ecocriticism, postcolonial landscape, postcolonial land claims.