TRUE LIFE Meet the white man who speaks Tshivenda fluently
Many Africans struggle with learning to speak TshiVenda, but Connie Strydom speaks the language fluently
CONNIE Strydom (21) from Musina in Limpopo became an overnight sensation after a video of him speaking fluent TshiVenda surfaced on social media, shocking both black and white South Africans. Connie says he believes white people should learn other South African languages. He also speaks to Move! about being famous, growing up poor and how he saved the love of his life.
HOW HE LEARNED TSHIVENDA
Connie grew up on a farm, where he learned TshiVenda from the farm workers' children.
“I loved those times because these children were not just my friends, but my brothers. There was no black or white, we were just friends having a good time on the farm. I learned to trust the VhaVenda people more than any other culture because of this experience. I grew up speaking TshiVenda, but I was about eight years old when I learned to speak Afrikaans. My parents loved it and found it funny. Other farmers did not approve of me speaking Tshivenda and not being able to speak Afrikaans. But I was never bothered by their opinions,” he says.
He remembers an encounter he had when he was in Grade 10 at a new school.
“I knew no one at the new school, so I used to roam around the school on my own. One day I passed a group of about 12 boys who were talking about me in TshiVenda and thought I didn’t understand them. I approached them and told them in TshiVenda to repeat what they had just said about me to my face. I have never seen a group of boys run so fast. Those boys became my friends not long after that” Connie recalls.
SHOCKING THE NATION
When the video of Connie speaking TshiVenda surfaced on social media, it soon went viral, shocking both black and white South Africans alike. “Many people are shocked or find it extremely funny when they hear me speak the language. I sometimes chirp in people’s conversations randomly just to make them laugh and shock them,” says Connie.
According to Connie, all white South Africans should learn at least one language outside of English and Afrikaans. “The majority of black people can either speak or understand English and Afrikaans. White students should also study one African language as a third language in school.”
He goes on to say that South Africa is not growing as a result of the separation between black and white people. “We would put other countries to shame if we work together because we have the potential to be great,” he says.
Being able to speak TshiVenda is not enough for Connie.
“I can also understand Sepedi and Setswana and I am in the process of learning those two languages.” He also wants to be the first South African to know all 11 official languages.
MANY PEOPLE ARE SHOCKED OR FIND IT EXTREMELY FUNNY WHEN THEY HEAR ME SPEAK THE LANGUAGE
GROWING UP POOR
While growing up, Connie and his family were poor living on a farm his father bought on credit years before. He remembers his father working on the farm from 5am to 8pm everyday just to make ends meet.
“I was in high school when one day my father came home with tears running down his face and told to us that the farm was paid up. We were all very content that my father’s work had finally paid off. Things have since picked up and he is now running a successful citrus farm, selling the fruit all over the world,” he says.
Connie further shares his love for others.
“I sometimes stop on the side of the road to speak to homeless people and find out how and why they ended up on the streets. Not all of them made bad decisions to end up where they are and we need to be sympathetic towards them,” he says.
SAVING THE LOVE OF HIS LIFE
Connie met his girlfriend a few months ago when the two started sending each other private messages on Instagram.
“She told me about her abusive relationship with her then boyfriend. I don’t believe a man should ever raise his hand on a woman. I eventually got tired of it and spontaneously drove to Durban to rescue her. I booked myself into a hotel and she sneaked out of her boyfriend’s apartment and came to stay with me. I called her mother and told her everything that happened. She thanked me for saving her daughter’s life and drove from Joburg to Durban. Upon her mother’s arrival I told her that she is now in good hands and headed back to Limpopo. She drove back with her mother to Joburg and I slept better that night knowing she is in safe hands,” he says.
Connie and his girlfriend made things official when she visited him in Musina a few weeks later and not long after that the couple began to live together.
“She is a city girl and struggled to adjust to living on a farm, so I decided it is best we moved to Gauteng,” he says.
Like any relationship, Connie and his girlfriend have their fair share of challenges. They are both unemployed and make ends meet by doing odd jobs here and there.
With Connie being recognised, more jobs seem to be coming his way. But he says this fame almost ruined his relationship with the love of his life.
“I let the fame get to me and began lying to her and coming home late. I was constantly on my phone because I was in demand. I then realised how my actions were negatively affecting us and stopped everything I was doing because I did not want to lose this special lady,” he says.
Speaking about future plans, Connie says he has finally made it on TV.
“I am featured in a TV advertisement where I am speaking a bit of TshiVenda. I worked alongside comedian Trevor Gumbi on that advertisement,” he says.
Connie Strydom says he is now in the process of learning to speak Sepedi and Setswana fluently, which he can only understand
Connie recently appeared in a TV advertisement where he speaks TshiVenda