Wat ‘n Wolhaarstorie! – A South African Article on Furries – and a radio show.
by Duncan R. Piasecki
As some of you might know, South Afrifur happened quite recently, the biggest one yet. Unusually for furries from this part of the world, however, was the media coverage: the convention was featured in an article in the Afrikaans magazine Huisgenoot, in their July 26th issue. Of course, being Afrikaans (quite an obscure language outside of this country) means the readership potential is limited internationally, but it’s a pretty big deal for local furries: the magazine is one of the most popular in the country.
So, for all the international furries out there, I present to you a reproduction of the print article, and then my own translation. Please keep in mind that Afrikaans and I don’t agree (it was my worst subject in high school), I’m very far from fluent in it, so this was done with Google Translate, a dictionary, and my own extrapolation. The results might not be exactly accurate, but I feel they give the general idea if not the exact translation. As you will see, some things just don’t cross-translate.
But first, a new development: furries on the radio.
A couple of the people covered in the Afrikaans article went on to one of Pretoria’s biggest radio stations to talk about being a furry (it sounded like it was because of the article, in fact), and I thought the interview went quite well (if ticking off a few of the usual boxes of annoying “but it’s a fetish, right?” questions the media loves to ask). Quite weird, this sudden boost in interest, considering everyone’s ignored this community in this country before now.
Videos of the interview:
- Part 1: https://www.facebook.com/
- Part 2: https://www.facebook.com/
I ripped an audio recording of the whole interview. It comes to about 24 minutes and has quite a bit more than the videos (a lot is not in English). Here’s a Google Drive folder of it, including videos from Facebook: https://drive.google.com/
Now, here’s the original article as it appeared in print:
Here’s my (possibly fairly crappy) translation:
WHAT A FAIRYTALE!
Not really, because these people are serious ‘furries’, who live like an animal in cute packages.
By HILDA VAN DYK
Photos: DINO CODEVILLA and PAPI MORAKE
SHE IS not a kitten that you handle without gloves, as you will be warned immediately. Especially when she dresses her cat suit this day, because then she becomes a lion.
Who is she? In her cat form, she is Sudan, her fantasy character that she created herself. When she is not in character, she is a Pretoria police officer working with serial killings. She won’t say her what her real name is.
“I have a very serious job,” she explains. “But here I can just relax. When I’m on my mask, I’m a lion. Then I’m no longer a police officer. I’m one of those bliksempies you don’t look for trouble with.”
Does it sound like a fairytale? Do not believe so, because Sudan is just one of 43 furries who recently gathered at a destination outside Pretoria. There were wolves, tigers, dragons and even a reindeer. And it’s a loving animal kingdom, because they are gently touching each other gently with their nails, paws or hooves.
Furries are an international phenomenon. It’s men and women who develop an animal personality for themselves and live it up in animal suits.
Furries are misunderstood by society, says a Johannesburg entrepreneur. In character he is Yukon (34), half-husky, half-wolf. “If you’re looking for the internet, you’ll see all the bad of the furry community first. There is a perception that they are a lot of perverse people and a community based on sex. And it’s not” he says.
As Yukon, he can enjoy daydreaming about a free, adventurous life in the wild, “like others when they imagine they are superheroes.”
Her character is not only teeth and claws, says the lioness Sudan. “I also have a soft side where I want to care for and protect my family. My character is a big part of who I am.”
OF the 43 furries here on the farm – where more conventional fun like birthday parties and quad bike rides are usually offered – there are seven international furries from America, Austria and Switzerland. The rest are South Africans.
Among them are lecturers, teachers, police officers, computer programmers and accountants. Some prefer not to mention their true names – just their fantasy characters.
They swing their hips when they walk so that their tails swing just like that. There’s barking and growling and howling and snorting to each mimic his animal nature. When games are played, they run around “on all fours”. Others scratch each other on the chest or back.
One exception to the “herd” is Jako Malan, (36), a computer programmer from Bellville. He walks in his bleached old army cap and smokes a pipe while watching the antics. He explains that he is of the kind of furries who do not wear animal suits. But in his spare time he writes stories in which he gives human characters human characters. He has already been honored for his work in the furry community.
“It’s hard to explain. It’s something you’re born with,” Jako says. “My wife does not get it.”
Sudan adds: “We are people who never grew up. We did not lose our childhood wonder. But like most geek hobbies, it’s not socially acceptable for adults to wear animals and have fun” she says.
“I’m 38 and I still look at comics. People do not understand you can be older and still childish.”
At the bar there is a man in a one who looks like a cross between a wolf and a fox. He sips on a beer while looking at the characters around him.
“That guy’s husky suit makes me jealous. It was the first time he made a suit and looked incredible. It makes me look very bad,” he says.
“I have 14 heads at home, heads I start making and just left because I just get it right. I’m very jealous.”
He puts his hands in the glove paws that are tied to his suit’s sleeves, take another swig of beer and makes a claw.
Sim, one of the Americans, orders a brandy and coke. His leopard tail swings behind him.
Each of the furries has a different explanation for their furry animal passion.
Ryno Lombaard (23) from Krugersdorp is fond of making the suits. He’s studying to become a chartered accountant, but when he gets the chance he is busy with the sewing machine.
“Before I saw a furry outfit for the first time, I never did sewing in my life. I wanted to have such a suit, but no one in South Africa makes it.”
He went his grandmother Lenie Booysen in the evenings to learn sewing before starting his first suit.
“Every suit has its own object and detail, and every little detail is yours. I have a mark in my right eye. My character also has such a mark in his eye.” he says proudly.
The wolf mask of Heinrich van Rooyen, (25), a chef from Pretoria, has a mark on his cheek. Just like him. He made the wolf suit was made specially in England. It’s his alter ego, says Heinrich.
“When I’m in character, I’m who I feel internally,” Heinrich says about his character, Ironwolf Tempest.
He struggled growing up, says Heinrich. He was that kid in class who nobody knew. And those who knew about him usually bullied him.
But when he dresses his wolf suit, these things are things of the past. Then he has self-confidence.
Then he is that guy who is not bothered by anything.
THERE were furries who did things that were not acceptable in society, acknowledged Conrad Albertyn (30), a lecturer from Johannesburg.
“But those people had issues before they became involved in the furries, and will after they’ve left the furries. When one finds someone who has a criminal intention, things are worked out,” Conrad said.
In South Africa there are about 1 000 furries. They regularly talk to online platforms about everyday things, such as the latest animation films, careers and philosophies of life.
The furries are moreover animal friends, tell the group – during their gathering, they raised R12 000 for a dog protection organization.
It’s his kind of people, says Equifox (27), a building contractor in Pretoria. Not even his parents know he’s a furry.
“Most are ordinary people of all walks of life. There are a few weirdos, but they just ignore you,” he says.
“One feels like an outsider if you’re a furry. Your character is something that is part of you. That’s something people do not understand. But among other furries you feel at home because here you are not alone. ”
And as if they want to assert his words, the characters scratch each other compassionately with their furry animal paws.
LEFT: Heindrich van Rooyen got his wolf suit specially made in London, while Ryno Lombaard made his outfit himself.
FAR LEFT: Hendrich as his alter ego, Ironwolf Tempest.
MAIN PHOTO: Furries from all over the country, and even a few from overseas, recently gathered outside Pretoria for their annual assembly.
LEFT: The furries play a small pot of Uno together.
INLAY: Rags Wox (left), Vidan and Ironwolf Tempest (right) relax at the bar and enjoy a beer.
BOTTOM: The lioness Sudan should rather not be handled without gloves.
A transcript of the original text in Afrikaans is available. It’s withheld from here for copyright concern about putting it on the open web – please email to ask for it via the About page. The article author was emailed to ask for an OK to post the English translation, but there was no reply. It’s posted here as info that would not be seen without original translation work, and most likely will mainly benefit viewers who would never be in the viewership for the Afrikaans source or see it any other way.
Thanks a million to Duncan for the guest post – Patch