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De La Rey 2 – Giving meaning to words February 19, 2007

Posted by Cobus in Politics, South Africa, theology, Youth Ministry.
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I’m not even sure when De La Rey came out. I heard about it somewhere in the second half of last year, and from the first word I heard that this was a racist song. But one evening one of the guys on our corridor played us the song that was beginning to make history. Immediately one of our friends were on his cell phone and reading us the history of General Koos De La Rey from Wikipedia. And we had to conclude that we can’t really see the problem with the song. But I guess that has changed…

What exactly we read that evening I can’t remember. But, reading Wikipedia today I find information that General De La Rey was opposed to war, and opposed to Paul Kruger’s policies against the uitlanders (people not from South Africa who wanted to come to the Transvaal and Frees State to mine gold and diamonds). After the war he became part of parliament, but in opposition to Hertzog tried to unite Boer and British.

General De La Rey was a great military leader, but although Wikipedia says he was one of the leading figures in Afrikaner Nationalism, to me it doesn’t look like it (Aldi, your opinion will be appreciated on this one). Through the eyes of our liberal democracy De La Rey might look like a nationalist, but I think if we look at him as a Boer of 100 years ago, he might turn out to be quite the opposite.

But we listened to the words as we heard it. Today, De La Rey is given meaning. Bok van Blerk and Johan Vorster (the composer) claim that they didn’t intend the song to be a new source of nationalism (although they forgot to mention the De La Rey striving to unite Boer and British, and only mentioned him as general fighting the British). Of course, we can argue on intentions the whole day, and that’s not really important. But how the song is interpreted today by young people is. Do we really want De La Rey to come back? The politician who tried to unite the Boer and the British? The issue today is uniting races in South Africa, would a modern De La Rey not strive to achieve this?

Do those who stand with there fist on there breast and sing the song, or listen to it in silence at parties, want this kind of De La Rey, or do they want a new leader who will unite Afrikaner against the rest?

I’m still writing as Afrikaner, that is the only way I can write. But if only identity is found in the fact that I am Afrikaner, and if it is symbolised by De La Rey (Batman Begins has something interesting on the power of a symbol) then it’s a very poor identity. Because I’m also South-African, part of a multi-racial country. Christian. Theologian. Taaibosser (Taaibos is the hostel where I live), together with people of all races. Tukkie etc. I need a bigger symbol than De La Rey, bigger than the way he is portrayed in the song, and definitely bigger than the way he is interpreted by new-Afrikaners.

  1. Other posts on this topic :
  2. De La Rey
  3. De La Rey 3 – some other songs, and no final words

Also read this from Carte Blanche

Wel, ietsie in Afrikaans. Die lied De La Rey het nie ‘n vaste betekenis nie, maar ons is besig om betekenis te gee aan die lied. Betekenis is nie vas nie, maar word gevorm tussen mense. Soos ek die persoon De La Rey sien, is dit iemand heeltemal anders as wat ons verwag. Dit is nie die groot Afrikaner Nationalis, die Apartheid held nie. Ek dink nie hy is die toonbeeld van ‘n leier wat die Afrikaner teen ander saambind nie, maar eerder as ‘n leier wat ‘n stappie vooruit kon dink, en die Afrikaner wou saambind aan Engelse wat in Suid Afrika bly. En sou sy gelyke vandag ook ‘n stappie verder kon dink en streef daarna om die Afrikaner saam te bind met ander rasse van Suid Afrika?

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Comments»

1. Bernardvw - February 19, 2007

Just a short while back I have commented on De La Rey 1, saying that we do need a leader, one that unites us. And here I hear that De La Rey was actually the type of guy we really need. And this is great. But then again, why, with only the knowledge that the song gives us, do we think of De La Rey as the guy that deafeted the British. And that in turn can’t stop me from thinking, Why? why do we only know of that side of General De La Rey. why do we make people what we want them to be? And in this case, why do we change people from what we NEED to what we WANT?

2. Adriaan Botha - February 19, 2007

Apartheid is ‘n deel van die geskiedenis waarvan die Afrikaner eerder wil vergeet. Ongelukkig kan niemand daarvan vergeet nie. Net voor die feesseisoen was daar ‘n advertensie gewees wat Afrikaans as die “onderdrukkerstaal” gebrandmerk het. Daar was al ‘n verkeindenheid dokumentêre programme, dramas en rolprente wat oor apartheid gaan en die Afrikaner in ‘n slegte lig stel. Byvoorbeeld die Lintswe poetry project op SABC2 se gedigte en uitbeeldings wat daarin was. Dit wil lyk of dit amper ‘n skande is om Afrikaans te praat al het die jeug niks daarmee te doen gehad nie. Verwys na vorige artikel “Afrikaner Nationalism” wat Afrikaners as onderdrukkers beskou.

Die liedjie het weer ‘n ander perspektief gestel van die Afrikaner. Dit is nie ‘n “opstand” of “boeremag propoganda” nie (sommige laat dit amper so klink). Dit is die eerste keer in ‘n lang tyd wat mense weer trots kan voel om ‘n Afrikaner te wees. Is dit net mense van die plaaslike kulture wat mag trots wees op sekere dele van die geskiedenis? Ons het al tot vervelens toe gehoor hoe apartheid ‘n vuishou toegedien is, dit gee die betrokke mense groot trots oor hulle oorwinning. Hulle het hard daarvoor geveg en verdien die trots.

Ek is ook ‘n liedjieskrywer in my vryetyd. Sommige wil weet hoekom nie alle aspekte van De La Rey genoem word nie, soos die versoening wat hy nagestreef het. Die feit is dat as jy ‘n liedjie skryf kyk jy nie altyd net na die hele storie nie, soms is dit nodig om informasie weg te laat sodat die lirieke beter vloei en beter op die oor is. Die doel is juis dat daar musiek verkoop moet word. Die doel is nie om ‘n geskiedenis boek te sing nie, daarvoor is daar wel biblioteke. As Bok van Blerk en Johan Vorster ‘n opskudding wou veroorsaak hoekom het hy nie oor Verwoerd en Kie geksryf nie? Daar is elkegeval nie kwadegevoelens meer tussen die Engelse en Afrikaners nie.

Die Engelsprekendes in die land word nie as kinder-en-vrouemoordernaars beskou nie, maar Afrikaners word maklik in sommige gevalle vinnig as rassiste gebrandmerk. Ek het self al onder die aanmerkings van buitelanders deurgeloop sonder enige rede.

Die wat dink dat hulle enigsins ‘n verkil maak deur op die kantlyn te staan en opmerkings in artikels maak bluf hulself, hulle doen niks behalwe praat nie. As rassisme uit verkillend kampe beveg word sal dit net die situasie vergerger. As jy regtig braaf is staan op teen jou vriende wys hulle hoe om teen ander rasse op te tree en verkeerde optrede tereg wys.

Musiek gewys hou ek nie eers van die liedjie nie, die lirieke is heeltemal uit proporsie opgeblaas. Dit vuur nie enige haat en geweld aan nie. As daar wel ‘n vuur is, is opmerkings en debatering net die petrol wat daarop gegooi word. Mandela is ‘n leier vir sy mense, al neem hy ook ander taal en rasgroepe in ag. Die Afrikaner het baie verdeeld geraak oor die jare, dit is juis nodig vir iemand om die gemeenskaplike belange aan die lig te bring. Autoriteit word benodig of dit ‘n generaal of professor is.

3. Adriaan Botha - February 20, 2007

My previous post was in Afrikaans to give backgroud to the real question that should be asked. Are there limits on how one can use and portray history? When does it get offensive? Should there be guidelines when to say something or rather keep it to yourself? If you a song is inspired by a leader (any history and war) what is the limits of the song? For example movies inspired by 9-11terrorists attacks. Do the creater do enough to distinguish between the people from the eastern countries. Does the lyrics create a perception that include all Afrikaners as boere under De La Rey and does the referral of “kakies” refer to English people in general or only those who fought in the war.

4. Pete - February 20, 2007

Would you please refer to my comment, on the whole De La Rey debacle, on my blog http://faithjourneywithgod.worpress.com. You can also find it directly by clicking here: http://faithjourneywithgod.wordpress.com/2007/02/20/the-hype-about-de-la-rey/#more-21

Enjoy your day!

5. Bernardvw - February 20, 2007

De La Rey is a symbol of the old South Africa. And like I heard (another) guy said this morning, it is our new anthem. I live near Swaziland and my father is a missionary there, so I go there alot. And probaly because of that it is extremely difficult to be a racist, but most of the thing I write is out of frustration because people are still hating them because of skin colour. But Adriaan, what you say is right (I think). We now need a leader like Mandela. We still have trouble crossing the gap

6. Annemarie - February 20, 2007

To be honest I’m getting really sick of the whole Apartheid thing. Sure it’s an important part of SA’s history but that’s exactly what it is history. We can’t change the past but we can create a better future.

Last Thursday there was some social at school. We call it SingSongs (were all the spectators of the athletics meeting come together and sing and shout and go nuts). One of my friends moved into a row with about four or five black kids. One of them had their arm at the back of the chair next to him, my friend thought that maybe he was keeping place for someone so she left that chair open and sat on the next one. And immediately with that action one of the black girls said racist. And this friend is anything but a racist. Eventually we found out that no one was sitting on the chair so we moved up. No problem, no hassle.

It’s as if the younger generation keeps on living in the past that we were not part of. Why do we do this? Why do we open old wounds?

7. cobus - February 22, 2007

We called it historical amnesia in a small seminar paper we gave. The idea that we can go on and just forget about the past.
I don’t think we need to put ourselves on a guilt trip everyday because of what previous generations have done. But it’s dishonest to forget about the past, to not look at what happened, and how it’s still happening. Amanda Strydom sings that the times have changed, but for some, it was to late. I think that as Christians we can really thank God for the fact that the times have changed, but we have to see those for whom it was to late, those that suffer, and we have to be realistic about what the cost was. That is the only way we can really become part of today, by facing what happened yesterday, bacause today can only be today because of the way things happened yesterday.

8. Aldi - February 23, 2007

How can Afrikaners expect to be forgiven for apartheid if they still can’t forgive the British for the Anglo Boer War?

Hans - October 4, 2012

Apartheid was started by the British and only labled and refined by Verwoerd and the national party, but Verwoerds agenda was another story. The national party was to blame for enforcing apartheid, not Verwoerd. The British had no right to be in SA

9. cobus - February 23, 2007

How many of us really expect to be forgiven? I have a feeling that more of us either think we were right (for instance, people still saying that “Apartheid was ‘n good idea, it was just applied wrong”). A lot more are simply saying it is something of the past, and has nothing to do with us. I have a feeling that a lot of Afrikaners want forgiveness, meaning they want affirmative action to stop.

10. de la Rey - March 9, 2007

Aldi, it is not a case of not forgiving…, boere war is over…. apartheid is over…. This is merely a song that give honour to gnl de la Rey. By the way…… WHAT DOES APARTHEID HAVE TO DO WITH THE ANGLO BOERE WAR????

It looks to me, like you are one of those people, that cannot stand the fact that afrikaners stand together, therefor looking for a reason to make us look bad. If you dont fit in, dont through us out.

11. Annemarie - March 9, 2007

Hey de la Rey

I heard that the song was written because de la Rey whas the best name to rhyme with. If this is true or not I don’t know. But you’re right. It’s only a song and there’s nothing wrong if you like it. It’s just the reaction on the song of certian people.

12. cobus - March 10, 2007

Annemarie, they said that on the Carte Blanche discussion of the song.

de la rey. What happens when Afrikaners don’t stand together, but stand together in a bigger entity, maybe that of South Africans, or Africans? Will it be wrong? Will it be a problem?

What happens when we take die gospels seriously, where Jesus chose those who suffered over his own brothers and sisters. Those who where cast out over his fellow Jews?

13. De La Rey « emerging South Africa - March 19, 2007

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

14. Jos - March 19, 2007

Ik hoorde een week geleden pas van het liedje over De La Rey. Ik ben natuurlijk een buitenstaander, maar begrijp eerlijk gezegd alle opwinding niet. Ik krijg de indruk dat dit lied wordt geassocieerd met (blank) nationalisme, verheerlijking van de blanke heerschappij (apartheid) en dat dat in het huidige Zuid-Afrika begrippen en gevoelens zijn waarover je niet spreekt. En doe je dat wel dan word je daar op aangekeken. Heeft dat liedje wel die lading? Of wordt het schromelijk overtrokken? Is het een probleem om het over de Boerenoorlogen, de Grote Trek, apartheid en de thuislandenpolitiek, etc. te hebben? Of moet de geschiedenis van Zuid-Afrika zich beperken tot de rol van het ANC en vergelijkbare organisaties? Mag/Moet je je eigen geschiedenis doodzwijgen? Dat lijkt mij een onmogelijke opgave.

15. cobus - March 20, 2007

Jos, thanx for joining the conversation.
I’m 22, so I had my first history lessons at school before 1994. Today, I have to relearn my own history. Not so that I can see everything from an ANC perspective, but because a lot of what was learned by the previous educational system was only one side of the story, or even propaganda.
We just need a balanced view of our history. The Anglo-Boer war is part of it, so is Apartheid. There is parts which we could like to tell our children, beautiful stories of our ancestors. But there is a lot which we would not like our children to know, but they need to know that as well.
The history of General De La Rey is not a problem at all. But if what we learn from that history is that we need a new leader to lead the Boer (the white Afrikaans speaking people of South Africa), apart from the rest of our communities, or even against them, then it becomes a problem.
But keep on giving that outsiders view, we appreciate it.

16. Koos - March 24, 2007

Cobus

Ek vind hierdie debat besonder interessant. Maar jy sê n paar dinge wat my laat dink jy is nog nie seker presies wat jou gevoel oor die liedjie (positief of negatief) en jou interpretasie van die woorde “sal jy die Boere kom lei?” is nie. Dink jy die skrywer van die liedjie het bedoel die Boere het ‘n leier nodig vandag? Dink jy die skrywer gebruik die term “Boere” omdat hy net wit mense bedoel?

Dink jy nie die rede hoekom mense so opgewonde is oor die liedjie is omdat hulle ‘n leier of ‘n verenigende invloed vir Afrikaanse mense soek nie? Of dink jy dit is net rassiste wat deur die liedjie geraak is?

Ek dink nie mense wat hulle koppe in die sand druk en sê “die skrywer het maar net woorde wat rym bymekaar gesit”, maak ‘n konstruktiewe bydra tot probeer verstaan hoekom mense deur die liedjie geraak is nie.

Is dit ‘n geval van party Afrikaanses wat nie raaksien dat trotswees om Afrikaans te wees sterker word nie?

Ek vra maar net want ek verstaan nie heeltemal nie.

17. cobus - March 24, 2007

Kyk onder De La Rey 3, ek het daar gereply. Dankie vir almal se comments, praat gerus saam!
Look under De La Rey 3, I replied there. Thanx for all your comments, feel free to take part in the conversation.

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