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De La Rey February 12, 2007

Posted by Cobus in church, Emerging Church, Emerging Culture, Journal, Missional, Politics, South Africa, theology, Youth Ministry.

To anyone in South Africa, even non-Afrikaans speaking people. The words of the title will have immediate meaning. To anyone not from South Africa, of not following South African news, you probably would have to be a student of South African history for this to mean anything to you.

Now something about this blog. I’m Afrikaans, but write in English because I believe we have to take part in a conversation bigger than that which we can have in Afrikaans. But I’m South African, and therefore need to react to South African questions. And I think I’m still an Afrikaner, although this is kind of putting the cart in front of the horses (wonder if there is such a saying in English). And therefore the words of the title have meaning to me, a lot of meaning.

I might be writing some more on some stuff in South Africa in the next few weeks, stuff toughing the Afrikaner people. These posts will have a paragraph at the end in Afrikaans, summing up what is being said, or something like that.

You can read something of the history of General De la Rey here, but the part on pop culture leaves much to be desired. Basically this is what’s going on. This guy De la Rey was a very famous general in the Anglo-Boer war. Then someone wrote a song about him, Bok van Blerk start singing it, and the Afrikaner youth freak out. This song gets treated like a new national anthem to a lot of them. And the past few weeks it’s been basically daily news in the biggest Afrikaans paper (biggest paper?) in South Afrika.

At the bottom I give a direct translation of the words, but basically the words sing about the war of 1899-1902, about how bad the situation is, and then ask General De la Rey to come and lead the Boer, telling him that they will  fall beside him. But this is a basic thing of people giving meaning to words. Whether it was intended or not, this song is interpreted by many as the call of the Afrikaner that we will get a new leader, someone that will lead the Afrikaner youth. It’s becoming synonymous with a new flag of Afrikaner Nationalism.

OK, so I don’t have a point yet. But I need to start asking the question, and voicing my opinion. Am I still an Afrikaner? How do I find my identity in South Africa as Christian, as theologian? How do I treat my own history? I won’t claim to have the answer. So please, let those opinions flow, whether your South African or not. I’ll be writing some more on this in the next few days, weeks, who knows.

Other posts on this topic :
De La Rey 2 – Giving meaning to words

De La Rey 3 – some other songs, and no final words

OK. So ek skryf weer bietjie Afrikaans vir ‘n slag. Meestal bly ek maar by Engels, want ek glo die gesprek moet groter wees as net ons paar miljoen Afrikaans sprekendes. De la Rey bring ook by my die vraag na my eie identiteit op. So ek dink dis iets waaroor ek maar bietjie moet begin blog. Nie net De la Rey nie, maar oor die algemeen oor Afrikaners in Suid Afrika. Ek besef dit is ‘n redelike warm patat vir baie Afrikaners, maar nou ja. Kom ons voice maar, en soek saam antwoorde.

De La ReyOn a mountain in the night
We lie in the dark and wait
In the mud and the blood
As cold rain clings to my pack
And my house and my farm were burnt to the ground so they
could capture us
But the flame and the fire that once burned deep
now burn deep within my heart.
De La Rey, De La Rey will you come lead the Boer
De La Rey, De La Rey
General, General united with you we shall fall.
General De La Rey.

Against the English soldiers that laugh
A handful of us against a big force
With the cliffs of the mountains against our backs
They think it’s done

But the heart of a Boer is deeper and wider
they will still see it
On a horse he has come, The Lion of West Transvaal.

De La Rey, De La Rey will you come lead the Boer
De La Rey, De La Rey
General, General united with you we shall fall.
General De La Rey.

Because my wife and my child lies in a camp and die,
As the English soldiers marrow runs over a nation that will stand up again

De La Rey, De La Rey will you come lead the Boer
De La Rey, De La Rey
General, General united with you we shall fall


Op ‘n berg in die nag
lê ons in die donker en wag
in die modder en bloed lê ek koud,
streepsak en reën kleef teen my

en my huis en my plaas tot kole verbrand sodat hulle ons kan
maar daai vlamme en vuur brand nou diep, diep binne my.

De La Rey, De La Rey sal jy die Boere kom lei?
De La Rey, De La Rey
Generaal, generaal soos een man, sal ons om jou val.
Generaal De La Rey.

Oor die Kakies wat lag,
‘n handjie van ons teen ‘n hele groot mag
en die kranse lê hier teen ons rug,
hulle dink dis verby.

Maar die hart van ‘n Boer lê dieper en wyer, hulle gaan
dit nog sien.
Op ‘n perd kom hy aan, die Leeu van die Wes Transvaal.

De La Rey, De La Rey sal jy die Boere kom lei?
De La Rey, De La Rey
Generaal, generaal soos een man, sal ons om jou val.
Generaal De La Rey.

Want my vrou en my kind lê in ‘n kamp en vergaan,
en die Kakies se murg loop oor ‘n nasie wat weer op sal

De La Rey, De La Rey sal jy die Boere kom lei?
De La Rey, De La Rey
Generaal, generaal soos een man, sal ons om jou val.
Generaal De La Rey.



1. Bernardvw - February 14, 2007

I just don’t know why, but I don’t really like Afrikaans music. There is really few South African that I can honestly say is good, and of the bands I can think of, they usually don’t sing more that 2 or 3 songs that I would make trouble getting it. to be quite honest with you, I knew almost nothing of Bok van Blerk before De La Rey, and that was because everyone made a scene about it, and not because I liked it. I can’t be sure because I’m too young, but my personal opinion is that racism in South Africa increased after the fall of Apartheid. OK, some people just started by just living with diffirent races, and after a while found out the truth, their are human, just like us. But a lot of people I know at school is as big a racist as I can picture even the worst was 15 years ago. We had a long distance running event a few weeks ago, and a few of us just stood there bofore we started. Then one of the guys said : “I listened De La Rey a few times just before I came to give me power.” Another guy asked : “For what?” And the simple reply was : “To beat these black ######.” I think South Africa shot itself in the foot when we started apartheid. What is the answer, is there a way to get people to stop racism?

2. cobus - February 14, 2007

There is a lot of stories like the guy saying : “I listened De La Rey a few times just before I came to give me power.”. I would like to here some of the other stories from the younger people around here, those still doing high school.

3. Annemarie - February 14, 2007

It’s hard when you think about racism. I look at our grade 11 kids. Last year (gr10) a few of the afrikaans kids took english as first language (in South Africa you have two languages at school, your home language and another addisional language). This meant that we had to share a class with mostly black learners (about five or six of them were Indian). I came to respect these children and we could talk very easily to each other and we even made jokes. This was fun.

Also when I was young we usually went to my grandparent’s farm for the holidays. There was a black school nearby and every afternoon four children came to the farmhouse and my brother and I would go outside and play with them. Also a great experience.

But the fact still stands that some of my close family members are racists. The other day I was talking to someone about racism. He asked me why he should we respect them (black people) when they have stolen their car and have broken into their house. But he also said that not all blacks are like this. (Sorry for using the phrase black the whole time).

Just a thought on your identity question. I know that I was born into an Afrikaans family, this makes me a South African that speaks afrikaans. A Zulu born into a Zulu family is a South African that speaks Zulu. Mrs Rens (a teacher at my school) said one day that cats ar cats and dogs are dogs, but they can also live in peace.

But the kersie op die koek 😉 is the National Anthem monday mornings in the school hall. The afrikaans kids (most of them) only sing the afrikaans part and most english learners sing everything but the afrikaans.

4. Aldi - February 15, 2007

I think you are still an Afrikaner because a lot of what you think, say and do is a result of the fact that you have an Afrikaner upbringing.

5. Aldi - February 15, 2007

Nog iets… Die Kaapse Son is die grootste Afrikaanse dagblad. Die Burger is ook groter as Beeld, maar Beeld is darem die grootste Afrikaanse dagblad in Gauteng!

6. Bernardvw - February 15, 2007

Just something I just realised when I came to check the new comments. We are talking about people hating other people because they are a diffirent race. All this hate on Valentinesday

7. cobus - February 17, 2007

I do believe I’m writing as an Afrikaner. But just before I wrote this, I read some guy called Izak du Plessis wrote in Die Kerkbode of 9 February 2007 on p6, where he said that he was an Afrikaner till 27 April 1994, then he became a South African. We stay Afrikaner, although we don’t agree with everything associated with the idea.

8. Iemand - February 19, 2007

I am a 23 year old white woman, my mother language is Afrikaans but I am learning French and German too. I sometimes think I’m the only “Afrikaner” young person who think nothing of the De La Rey song. I don’t like it at all and I didn’t even know who was Bok van Blerk because I don’t listen to Afrikaans music. I feel my identity is sorted out, and therefore don’t need a dead Boer general to lead me. I lead myself because I’m my own person. My identity is bigger than a language, although I think Afrikaans is beautiful language, I don’t limit myself to just one tongue, one race, one culture.

9. cobus - February 19, 2007

Iemand, I don’t think you’re alone. There is a lot of us feeling the same. The only reason I’m at all bothering to talk about this, is because I believe that we need to address the issues laid on our table by society, and at the moment De La Rey is one of them

10. Bernardvw - February 19, 2007

Hi Iemand (like the name)

In most ways I think I agree with you. but your identity are never sorted out. But I don’t like De La Rey at all. And allthough I know we don’t need the dead general anymore, we need a leader, but for something else. I know the feeling Annemarie has about the National Anthem. We need a leader (I think) to help us make the bonds of love between us and South Africans of diffirent cultures. But we will always be Afrikaners, with our own weak and strong points, like all other cultures. But you are right. Out Identities are bigger than a language, no matter how beautiful. None of us must limit ourselves to one tongue, one race, one culture

11. De La Rey 2 - Giving meaning to words « emerging South Africa - February 19, 2007

[…] Previous post on this topic : De La Rey […]

12. EW - February 20, 2007

“We need a leader (I think) to help us make the bonds of love between us and South Africans of diffirent cultures.”

And how exactly should this be achieved? If you don’t feel these bonds of love, how can any leader make you to do it? I’m a Czech and I just love De La Rey.

13. Bernardvw - February 20, 2007

If a leader can make you fight beter, why can’t a good leader help make us make peace beter? A leader makes a big diffirence. Take Mandela. Or Ghandi. Or Ceacer. They are the people we are going to remember in 1000 years. Not the guys that fought. But the leader was needed to make them fight as well as they did. No, I think can make you feel the bonds of love, even if you don’t feel it yourself innitially. What else do you suggest?

14. Adriaan - February 20, 2007

I think the reason why people reject other cultures are because they don’t understand it. For example: I can’t distinguish between the African languages and people from one another. With many unkown factors there tends to be more fear and we would rather avoid the people. The hisrtory I was tought (school) was about he cold war and apartheid. Why the struggles and wars? Why don’t they teach us about people of South Africa a. Talking about racism won’t really help. You can’t change a guy’s views by force, he’ll just rebelle and try to shock you. The same energy should be used to make people more familiar with other cultures. We are too focussed on the boundries and groups that we tend to forget about the people. By information people can get more used to other cultures and easier to accept.

15. De la Rey 3 - some other songs, and no final words « emerging South Africa - March 19, 2007

[…] De La Rey […]

16. Kowie - April 9, 2007

I really laaik De La Rey, it’s whaau! It’s a sign that young people are standing up straight and stop being pathetic excuses for things that happen before they were born. Yes, Yes Yes – we need a leader for the Afrikaner or if you then want to broaden the group – for the white people in South Africa. Don’t always seeing everything in terms of war or killing – what we need is a strong leader to stand firm for all the whites against the black government who feels something between 0 and 1,2 percent for all white South Africans. De La Rey – we need you.

17. NadineSmit - August 4, 2007

(Uiteindelik het ek daarby uitgekom om jou blog te lees….) Everything that was wtitten about De La Rey made me think. I have heard the song, and I do know enough of the words to sing along, but the words don’t mean anything to me. Do the teenagers and even adults know exactly what they are saying and singing when they loudly play De La Rey and decide that it should be South Africa’s new National Anthem? Do they realise that they are merely seeking, maybe without realisation, leadership for a mere human being, someone who had been a leader in his time, which was a long time ago. In my life there is one, and only one Great Leader, and that is God. Some of you might think that I’m overlooking a lot of aspects in making this statement, but that is how I feel. Racism is something I have often contemplated. What is the difference between a white christian and a coloured christian and a black christian? Jesus died on the cross for all of His children. Our cultures and languages and even some of our views differ, but isn’t that what makes us individuals and contributes to our uniqueness? Yes, in South Africa we don’t neccesarily have the most wonderful leaders, but they are only humans, and humans make mistakes. By this I’m not justifying what is happening, because not all of it is right or even fair. Now some Afrikaner sings about the leadership some general gave in some war and Afrikaners go and make a huge issue out of it. If you need leadership in your life, why not seek it from out Heavenly Father? And if all of us take lead from the same Great Leader, can’t we all stand together, afterall we would all be going in the same direction, following the same Leader… I have black, white, portugese, german, indian and coloured friends, all of which are christians. And I don’t see them in any other light. Ek dink baie min, indien enigsins enigiets, van die liedjie De La Rey, daar is niks soseer met die song verkeerd nie, maar wat in die song is nou eintlik reg, reg genoeg om so ‘n bohaai te maak? Ek sal baie graag ‘n antwoord op daai ene wil he, want ek kry dit net nie reg om die ‘reg” of “wonderlik’ in die liedjie raak te sien nie. Maybe I’m too much of an optimistic person to be negative about South Africa, about our government, about the past or about my future, which by the way is in good Hands… I hope this makes sense to atleast one person out there…

18. renier de la rey - August 16, 2007

my van is de la Rey as daar iemand is wat my kan help met die de la Rey se familie boom sal ek dit waardeer

19. whitegranny - March 19, 2008

I shall put your link on my blog. It is interesting to hear what young Afrikaner children and young people think

20. Athol - December 16, 2008

Afrikaners have an amazing history and a proud one. Afrikaners also have had an incredible cohesive force that kept them together – united around an ideology and set of beliefs, they had a powerful identity. The difficuly of course is that this Afrikaner identity was built in a land mixed with other identities. Afrikaners were Afrikaner first, and South African second, or for them being Afrikaner was equal to being South African. But where did that leave other peoples living in South Africa? I am sad when I read or hear that Afrikaners dont feel part of South Africa now because they feel that their identity is being suppressed. Is there room for Afrikaners to modify the expression of their identity especially if it requires that non-Afrikaners are also South African. We therefore have to broaden the meaning of South African and view being Afrikaner not as being exclusive with negative connotations but as positive with a powerful positive heritage. I am not an Afrikaner, I am a black South African, but I do believe Afrikaners should stand up and be proud of their heritage. Afrikaner heritage goes way beyond Apartheid. If we all accept that Apartheid was wrong, we can move on. All around the world for all of history groups have caused suffering but they move on, they do not get caught and trapped in that period, for example we don’t see the British retreating quietly because of the suffering they caused the Scottish or Irish or indeed us here in South Africa. Afrikaners are every bit South African as the rest of us. We need you to be who you are! You have given this country more than we acknowledge. You have built the foundation of our land … we need you to continue building together with the rest of South Africa.

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