Nation’s top news reader says ‘totsiens’

2012-11-27 00:00

AFRIKAANS news reader Riaan Cruywagen retired last night from what he described as a 37-year “addiction”.

South Africans across the country stopped what they were doing to watch the national and nostalgic milestone as Cruywagen read his last news bulletin — 37 years to the day after he read his first news bulletin on SABC TV.

After the broadcast, a tearful Mariëtta Kruger, his former co-presenter and a good family friend, was first in line to hug him. She was his “TV-wife” of almost a decade during the 80s and 90s as his co-anchor.

The bulletin was cut short to allow a touching tribute to the man who had become the personification of professionalism at the national broadcaster.

The normally phlegmatic Cruywagen wiped away a few tears when his daughter told him on air to take time out to learn something that would be very difficult for him: to do nothing and just rest.

His wife Riana told sister paper Beeld she looked forward to having her husband home in the evenings and to be able to go away on an impulse.

In his closing speech, Cruywagen likened the giant team-effort that is required to broadcast a nightly bulletin to the body of a hippo — and his role in that effort as just the tips of the hippo’s ears. He also thanked his viewers for allowing him into their homes over the decades and concluded that if he looked back, everything was just a blessing. Then he said: “Vir oulaas — totsiens, en goeie nag.”

When the cameras turned off, he went to thank the sound crew and the teleprompter operator.

Chief operating officer of the SABC, Hlaudi Motsoeneng, also came to shake Cruywagen’s hand.

Cruywagen’s daughter joked that her dad owned one pair of jeans and 300 ties and added on a serious note that it took lots of guts for him to retire.

It is still not clear who will become his successor, but Cruywagen’s advice to that person is: “Be yourself, never try to imitate me. Be true to your personality, always look for the truth and don’t betray your integrity.”

Cruywagen said he “had no idea” whether he would work again, but said if he was going to work, it had to be in broadcasting. Last night his retirement became the top trend in South Africa on the social network Twitter.

“I don’t even know what it [Twitter] is,” he said with his trademark smile.

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