Hello from South Africa

Hi Everyone.

I’m really glad to have stumbled on this resource.

I have always considered myself to be Welsh (in my heart and genetics at least). My Mother is Welsh, my Father is Welsh, my Grandparent were Welsh, My Aunts, Uncles and Cousins are Welsh. I was raised Welsh, surrounded by British people, have always supported the Welsh team, I can sing every Max Boyce song ever written and I even had a Welsh accent until I was about eight years old (Well, actually my teachers thought I was Irish).

My parents immigrated to South Africa in 1976 and I was born in Johannesburg, South Africa seven years later, an only child. So sadly, the nationality stated on my ID does not correspond to how I identify myself. Perhaps I’m “Transnational”.
When my parents move on, I’ll have no blood family here besides my own children (who I consider to be half Welsh). Don’t get me wrong, I love these guys, I always wear my green and gold on condition that Wales are not the opponent (I was just as upset as all of you last week, maybe more so because I was so looking forward to having a dig at my work colleagues on Monday).

My folks are from Barry, and cannot speak a stitch of Welsh. I remember my Dad singing his own version of Hen Wlad Fy Nhadau to me when I was young and I made a conscious effort to memorise the words. It was only later in life that I realised he had made the words up, making me look like a tool when I proudly sang them in front of all my mates.

You see, because of my South African accent and ability to speak Afrikaans, I have always exaggerated my Welshness. If you wear a red rugby jersey, I’ll wear the jersey, a flag as a cape and carry 17 KG’s of leaks and Daffodils around all day.

About a year and a half ago, I decided that I needed to learn the actual words to the anthem. There is a coffee shop around the corner from my office that is open nice and early and I go there every day while waiting for the traffic to die down. I found a YouTube video which included the English phonetic spelling of the words and was able to memorise the song over two coffee sessions. I didn’t tell anyone, it was my little secret.

Last year, my Dad and I drove up to Nelspruit to watch Wales take on South Africa (That penalty try devastated me until the rematch later in the year). As the opening chords of the Welsh anthem began to play, I summoned my deepest baritone voice and belted it out perfectly, word for word. My Dad watched me in utter astonishment and then began to cry (tears of pride, just to clarify). It was a really special moment.

Of course I had no idea what I was saying. But I wanted to.

I searched far and wide for Welsh language clubs or schools in South Africa and online but couldn’t find anything until this last Sunday when I found the SSIW app in the Google Play store. I really didn’t expect much but decided to use my morning coffee sessions to give it a try. Man am I surprised! It feels like I have flown through the first four lessons. Luckily, Afrikaans also makes use of rolling R’s and back of the throat G’s, plus my middle name Is Lloyd (which I have always pronounced in Welsh, much to my Wife’s irritation) so the funny goose sound in the word “Gallu” comes naturally to me.

I’ve found the following routine to be very helpful indeed:

  1. After dropping my son off at school, I listen to a lesson while in traffic on my way to the coffee shop (speaking out loud in the car) and while I am drinking coffee (speaking in my head).
  2. I practice throughout the day whenever I have a gap.
  3. I listen to the lesson again on my way home while in traffic (again speaking out loud).
  4. When I get home I write down all the words and phrases I have learned that day (using English phonetic spelling not Welsh, that is another journey for another year).
  5. I then write down as many sentences as I can using the words and phrases I learned throughout the day (again in English phonetic spelling like ““Dween mendy sharat Cumag aggos dween Gally” = I am going to speak Welsh because I can).
    I know we are not supposed to write anything down (and I don’t when I’m listening to the lessons), but I find this really helps me to retain what I have learned, keeping it fresh in my mind the next morning (I speak Welsh in the shower).

My parents have two Welsh speaking friends from Swansea, so at least I will have someone to practice with when I get further along, but right now, like learning the anthem, I am keeping this a secret.

I would really like to thank the SSIW team for putting this together, it is very clear that you guys have put a great deal of effort and instructional thinking into this resource. I never thought I could learn this way, but I am glad I decided to at least give it a try. I’m really enjoying the humor and “if you got this right, then top of the class” sections of the lessons, which I find encouraging. I will definitely be purchasing access to the second and third courses and I appreciate the opportunity to connect with my heritage from the other side of the planet.

I’m hoping to visit Cymru in the next three years, but if you happen to find yourself in Johannesburg before such time, Dwi yn mynd i brynu cwrw i chi.


Shmae!! Helo! Chris Lloyd bach! I was so sad when I reached the dates and found you were born in 1983!! I’d been about to ask if you play rugby, because you clearly qualify to play for us… two grannies and two grandfathers!!!
You are getting on very well and clearly working hard!! Your dad’s reaction reminds me of a father I saw years back shopping in a Cardiff book shop. His little boy was looking at books in Cymraeg. “Can you really understand that?” asked Dad. “Oh yes, Dad!” I thought the father was going to burst with pride!! He turned to me, a perfect stranger… “Speaks Welsh…my son!” he gasped. I was nearly crying too!!!
Maybe one day, your children will want to learn. Having a father proud to be Welsh is wonderful for them. My father was raised to be ashamed of it!!! Just don’t push the kids and they’ll come to it themselves!!


Helo Hen Ddraig (Old Dragon, I’ll remember to write that down when I get home).

Thank you for the welcome. I would have been proud to wear the scarlet jersey if I had had the chance.
I do make a point of singing the correct anthem to my Son every day on the way to school, If he remembers the words and shows an interest in learning Cymraeg, I will gladly support him (As soon as He’s wrapped his head around English that is ha ha, He’s only little).


A very warm welcome to the forum, Chris - it took a certain amount of courage to come in here with a title mentioning South Africa right now…:wink:

It sounds as though you have built yourself a structured approach which will work perfectly for you - I don’t think I know of anyone who has made a regular, consistent slot for the lessons who hasn’t ended up speaking Welsh… :sunny:

Might just happen - I’ve got a friend who spends some of his time in Jo’burg, and I want to talk to him about putting some courses together for a bunch of southern African languages… :sunny:

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goeden dag. Well done on your achievements. I feel very alike with you. I stumbled upon SSiW by accident too, a very happy accident, mind. My mums family are also from Barry before coming to Australia, so I understand also the ‘extra’ Welsh pride-ness or whatever it would be called. Best of luck with the learning, it really is an enjoyable experience.


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Thank you Aron. Appreciate the welcome.
I definitely would not have mentioned South Africa if this was a Scottish forum that’s for sure (Craig Joubert, face palm).

Sounds like an exciting project for SSI, SA alone has 11 official languages, so this should keep you busy for a while.
I’d be happy to get you in touch with a few members of the cycling and running communities before you get here (I think you mentioned that your into these sort of things during lesson 3 ).
Totsiens, Hamba kahle 

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Ah, that might have been in ‘the years before back’ - now, I can manage an exercise bike (which is a huge improvement) but that’s about it for now…

But I’m sure I could manage a pint…:wink:

Mick Davies, G’day Mate :smile:
Thanks for the welcome, It’s great to meet a kindred spirit, It seems these Barry folk certainly do like to travel far.
Appreciate the comment and look forward to chatting more as I get along. I’m going to get stuck somewhere along the line so it’s great to see such an active forum.

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Ydw Aran, We can absolutely assist with that ha ha. The craft beer industry has just hit over here, many fine ales shall be had.


Hi Chris

Croeso, and greetings from one of your erstwhile countrymen!

I was born in SA and lived in your neck of the woods (Johannesburg) for seven years until coming to the UK in late-1979. I live in England, but really love Wales and in particular, the Welsh language.

I’ve found the SSi system of learning really brilliant, where you focus on the spoken language and (at first, at least) ignore what it looks like when written down. I think this is particularly useful with a language like Cymraeg, where the written form is (to the novice) really confusing and scary. I’ve often been tempted to write things down as I’ve been learning, but fortunately I’ve resisted the temptation! - it seems to have paid off.

Yes, a knowledge of Afrikaans can actually be useful when learning Welsh, because of the .,rrr …and…ch… sounds, which are common to both languages. In fact, I think that the sounds of Welsh and of Afrikaans make them quite comfortable bedfellows.

I have only my dog to practice Welsh on, and when I don’t know the Welsh for a particular word, I’ve found myself reaching for the Afrikaans (if I know it) rather than the English. The result is quite interesting, to say the least! - and doesn’t jar on the ear like a combination of Welsh and English does.

In fact, I’ve even got a name for this hybrid language I keep coming up with - Cymaans!

Anyway, do enjoy your Welsh learning, and you’ve certainly got a lot of motivation, what with all your Welsh ancestory!

Pob lwc, en alles van die beste



What a great story and very moving as well! Croeso! :smile:

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Don’t worry, I live in Scotland and nobody blames SA for the man!! As to Cymru, the Boks deserved to win that game in all fairness and I don’t honestly think they’ll beat the All Balcks, so I hope they do OK, as it sort of makes us look good for nearly winning!
I do realise that knowing how to spell in Cymraeg gives me advantages (not that you’d guess I can spell in any language, given my typos). I can’t know what it’s like to learn with no idea of the written word, although that’s how plant bach learn!! I am of the era where books ruled with blackboards in learning anything!!! (Except PE!!!)
Hwyl fawr, enjoy today’s game!
NB Hen = old, draig = dragon, ddraig = lady dragon!!!

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Shw mae ac croeso ar ffowm!

Hmmmm … I wonder … It won’t be a secret for a long time now I believe. :slight_smile:

(well, just a little joke actually as this sentence brought smile on my face.)

I wish your little secret, when revealed, brings BIG HAPPY surprise to your family and those two father’s friends.

I love your story. It gives me some more “fuel” to carry on and inspires me. And … I always loved such little secrets your’s is. They can make one particular day so much brighter and many times change your own live to better one …

Pob lwc @chris!


Hello Chris!
Had to drop you a note because we have so much in common! I too was born in South Africa, near Joburg, to Welsh parents, raised as Welsh, in a house where Welsh rugby was a religion rather than a sport :grin:

however, my family moved to Britain when we were little, and eventually home to Wales - my Aunty, Uncle and cousins are still in SA, they live down in Durban now.

Good luck with your SSIW course - it’s taken me from a bare smattering to chatting in Welsh to my children most of the time :blush:


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Angenaame kennis Gavin. Thank you for the welcome. :beer:

As of this week, and as I become comfortable with more words and phrases, I have started setting aside time each day to practice writing sentences in Welsh. I’m glad I didn’t do this before as I can clearly see how this can cause pronunciation problems later on. For example, I came across the term “Diolch” quite often while reading the forums (I was able to guess that this meant Thank you) but now that I have come across the term in the lessons, I keep finding myself using a ch sound instead of gg, My brain has obviously associated the sound of the English word with the written equivalent.

I’ll get past this nasty habit soon enough, but I do make a point of steering clear from the course guide until I am very comfortable speaking and writing sentences using English phonetic spelling. So far so good (besides diolch for the time being).

I’m almost at a stage where I can speak more Welsh than Afrikaans (though I understand far more Afrikaans than Welsh), so hopefully we will get an opportunity to chat in ‘Cymaans’ sometime, ha ha.

Thanks again and chat soon – Diolch (ggg! :grin: )


Helo Ella. Nice to meet another kindred :grinning:
Have you had a chance to come back for a visit since you moved? With the current exchange rate, you’ll only need about five quid for a six month holiday ha ha.
Thanks for the well wishes and look forward to chatting some more in the future.

Helo Ella. Nice to meet another kindred :grin:

Have you had a chance to come back for a visit since you moved? With the current exchange rate, you’ll only need about five quid for a six month holiday ha ha.

Thanks for the well wishes and look forward to chatting some more in the future.

Hi Tatjana. Thanks for the welcome and well wishes.
Looking forward to chatting with you some more (in Cymraeg) as I get further along. :blush:

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Hi Chris
I also was born in South Africa lived there until I was two. My mum lived there ten years in total. We lived in Pretoria. We came back to England so we could be near the family. My link with Wales is a little more distant, my Grandad was born in Aberdare South Wales and I moved to Wales eight years ago and live in mid Wales.

Good luck with SSIW it really is a very good course :smiley:


Sooo, the giraffe was parked somewhere … (or northern 6b doesn’t have this epic nonsense in it?) :slight_smile: