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Sunday, March 25, 2018

Traveling Cowboys: The Finer Nuances of a Boere Braai with the Two Cowboys in New Zealand

Die Boere Braai

South Africa is a funny place. Literally, if there is any disaster or depression at the Southern point of Africa, then the people of the country find a way to joke about it. One group notably developed comedy as a coping mechanism for their trials and tribulations. They are the Boere. The best place and time for their comedy is when they braai.

Boer is the Dutch and Afrikaans noun for "farmer". In the South African contexts, it also denotes the descendants of the then Dutch-speaking settlers of the eastern Cape frontier in Southern Africa during the 18th and much of the 19th century. A braai is their outside cooking event that brings people together. If you are a Boer, it is a daily sanctimonious ceremony of wisdom and ritual, closely tied to cultural identity.


The Boere of South Africa has a thirty-year head start on being marginalized in the country of their birth. The rest of Europe and the Western world is now slowly realizing the likelihood of it becoming their destiny as well. Today, the last part of the Boere nation's identity is under threat as the South African government moved to disown them from the farmland they've developed through generations, and owned and cultivated for centuries. It follows a decades-long systematic breakdown and distortion of their sovereignty, history, culture and unique language.

While this was happening, millions of Boere had no choice but to leave South Africa for safer shores and more secure future. Today, they are scattered throughout the world with Australia, New Zealand, USA and Canada the main enclaves where they've settled. Here, they committed to the futures and successes of their new hosts while building a future for their families. Their children are integrating to become Kiwi's, Aussies and Canucks and their language is heard less and less around the dinner table. However, one part of their culture remains. The continuation of the braai!

The Boere continues to braai and is more than willing to impart the ritual and wisdom to anyone keen on joining in. A few pre-requisites apply. Firstly, something needs to be cooked, preferably meat. Steak and chops are preferred. Beef and Lamb is the staple with Pork and Chicken as the vegetables. It can be done on a gas BBQ, however wood and coals are preferred.

Secondly, there need to be lots of beer. The more adventurous lubricate themselves with a drink commonly referred to as "spook & diesel" (Brandy and Coke). For the uninitiated, you will need training wheels before you dance with this devil. One thing is sure, bring your sense of humour. You will need it.


There are some unwritten and commonly agreed rules when embarking or joining in on a braai with Boere. Our video above shares some of this. For example, whoever has the tongs is in charge of cooking the meat. His reputation is at stake, and he takes the responsibility very seriously. No one else is allowed to touch it. If someone does, they immediately assume all responsibility for the food, which can become overbearing. Everyone else at the braai will instantly become an expert critic observing and commenting on your every move.

Over the next few weeks, we will impart a few more wisdom about the braai culture. We are heading to South Africa after a sixteen-year hiatus to see how it developed and to be schooled in some of the new customs and finer nuances of the braai nation.

Stay tuned for more.

Hendrik van Wyk
Boere Cowboy

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On the Road

Carft! Beer 
Hungry Boer

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