National

Last broadcast for Riaan Cruywagen

Lisa Van Wyk

Lisa van Wyk watches Riaan Cruywagen's last broadcast and realises just why so many people will miss him.

Riaan Cruywagen. (Gallo)

Of course, one tends to forget that watching Riaan Cruywagen's historic last broadcast involves actually watching the Afrikaans news.

And don't let my surname confuse you. I hardly praat die taal, so this is quite a task.

Not that Riaan Cruywagen is irrelevant to this Anglocentric Durbanite. One of my earliest television memories is a news broadcast where, for some reason, the dour and dull SABC decided to show a series of funny cat videos. When they cut back to Cruywagen, he was still laughing so hard he could hardly speak. "Ekskuus", he kept repeating, and the word has made me think of this moment ever since.

Cat videos? Back in the 80s? Oom Riaan knew the zeitgeist before we did.

It has just been pointed out to me that in South Africa there is something incredibly notable about the absolutely unnotable fact of a man doing his job for 37 years and then quietly retiring.

And it's strange to think that there are many people like me, who never watched the SABC news in any language, watching this broadcast, this mundane nightly roundup, out of some sense of occasion. Maybe even toasting his iconic chestnut 'do, as I am right now.

It's strange how these things come to mean so much to so many people. Whether its out of a sense of history, that this is a person that for 7 000 broadcasts trotted out the day to day facts of a turbulent and violent country, or out of a sense of retro cool (the same sentiment that saw him become an internet meme and star of a series of YouTube videos and a Loeries ad).

People find reasons to find significance in the ordinary.

He's wrapping up now. I don't know what he's saying. His Afrikaans is polite and formal, and it's fitting that his farewell seems to be read off a teleprompter. 

It's how we're most comfortable with him, after all. Predictable, reliable. Maybe that is a novelty.

Now something about his family, who are so thrilled to have him all to themselves. Riaan's wife's name is Riana. Oulik. You couldn't make this up.

Enjoy your retirement, Mr Cruywagen. I'm not sure why, but I'll miss you. And I'm not the only one.


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