Johannesburg - Would there be a revelation about that toupee we have stared at for so many years? Or would veteran SABC news anchor Riaan Cruywagen shed a tear?
But there was no grand exit on Monday night. Cruywagen, 67, coolly delivered his last news bulletin like a pro. He didn’t shed a tear and modestly attributed his success to the news teams that surrounded him over the past 37 years.
“Ek was net die oortjies van die seekoei [I was just a small part in a much larger organisation],” Cruywagen said on Monday night, referring to the behind the scenes team that brought the news every night.
While Cruywagen might have been cooler than… well, Chuck Norris in a street fight with a battalion of ninjas – it was his followers and admirers who expressed emotion. Five minutes into his final broadcast and Cruywagen was trending on Twitter. He had knocked new cricket sensation Faf du Plessis off the top spot.
“Aah #Riaan Cruywagen made me just shed a tear now with his final farewell. What a legend of TV news. Totsiens. Well played sir,” said one Tweeter. Another compared Cruywagen to a US anchor great.
“Tonight – Rian Cruywagen’s last TV news broadcast, 36-year career since TV began in SA. USA’s Walter Kronkite was on TV 19 years, by comparison.”
In Stellenbosch, the 5 Ryneveld cinema advertised for Cruywagen fans to come and watch his farewell on the big screen. There were numerous Facebook pages petitioning for the veteran news reader to become president and a retelling of old Chuck Norris jokes which were modified to suit South Africa by using Cruywagen’s name.
Monday was 37 years to the day that Cruywagen appeared on South African TV. The main news story that day was about the sentencing of poet Breyten Breytenbach to nine years in jail.
Through the decades, governments fell and styles changed, but Cruywagen’s hair and enduring youthful looks remained the subject of jokes, YouTube videos and tons of admiration.
He appeared in 8 000 broadcasts.
In a documentary that appeared on SABC2 on Monday night honouring him, Cruywagen called himself a career broadcaster who remained true to his profession. He wanted to spend more time with his family and make up for those 8 000 evenings when he was away working.