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De La Rey 3 – some other songs, and no final words March 19, 2007

Posted by Cobus in church, Emerging Church, Politics, South Africa, theology.

It’s been a month since I last posted on the De La Rey issue. Since then it seems like Shaldean Human took some of the talk about De La Rey, maybe it’s just my perception, but it seems like there is a bit less talk about it than 6 weeks ago.

OK, I want to tell you about a few songs, they are all in Afrikaans, so if you can’t read Afrikaans you’ll have to trust my interpretation, or someone will have to give another one, but here goes.Melktertkommisie sings in there song “A Song” about the fact that Apartheid is over. They sing about people for whom both Shaka and Rachel are hero’s. Now, Shaka is the famous leader of the Zulu people, you will find him in certain strategy games, and Rachel I believe points to Racheltjie de Beer, one of the Afrikaans folk hero’s. A girl who saved her little brother from freezing by taking of her clothes and throwing it over him, and then died herself. This is really a nice song, and I really liked it, but it’s idealistic. Apartheid as a system may be over on paper, but the reality is that black people in
South Africa still struggle with the worst infrastructure. They have the worst schools, a lot of them no running water or electricity, and are the poorest people of our country. But more than that, the conversations in the Afrikaner community in the last few months showed that Apartheid still isn’t over.

Klopjag sings the song “Nie Langer” in which they say that they won’t say sorry for Apartheid any longer. Yes, they say, we were wrong, and everyone knows it, but we won’t say sorry any longer. They will agree to all the rules, and to the new flag, but they won’t say sorry. And it sounds like it’s about affirmative action, which a lot of white people today have mayor issues about. But every time I listen to it, I get the feeling of apathy. The feeling that says, what happened happened, and yes it was wrong, but nothing can or should be done about it, because it belongs in the past. And we cannot go this way, we have to actively be part of the solution in
South Africa.

Now, De La Rey. Well, the way the song is used today I hear about people saying that the Afrikaner, the Boer, should be led as a group. I also hear people saying that the past should not be forgotten, but that the answer actually lies in the past, when the Afrikaner people stood together as a group against those who differed from them. De La Rey was part of a war, but we should stand together against the “other” people, whoever they may be, as if in a war.

Then there is this one song, which I really love. It’s called “Sondag in Soweto” (Sunday in
Soweto) and sang by Amanda Strydom. She tells of the day when she went to a church service in Soweto, about times that have changed, but for some, the times changes to late. She tells about the people praying and dancing, and then giving her a chance to speak. And all she say is that she believes, she’s not sure in what, but she believes in what she is seeing. She tells of the woman stands up and say that she will forgive everyone, and how she stands there in amazement when she finds out that this woman’s son was shot before her eyes.Why is this such an amazing song? Well, it acknowledges what happened, and that it still has a moyor influence on a lot of people today. But it sketches the beautifull picture of hope, of reconciliation. It tells the story of how we can go into Mamelodi, and attend a church. How things can become different.

If I have to choose, this is the song I will choose. We can’t go back to the past, and we can’t ignore the fact that there is still a lot of things that needs to be corrected, that we have to be actively involved in building this country. And, as nice as it would have been, we cannot pretend that everyting has changed, for some people, things changed to late, and as follower of Christ, I have to be his hands and feet to these people.

Well, the comment box is now open. How can we go forward as church in South Africa. Will we remain labeled the “De La Rey generation”, or will we be able to do things in an entirely different manner. If, then how?

Other posts on this topic :

De La Rey

De La Rey 2 – Giving Meaning to words



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

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

2. cobus - March 24, 2007

Koos, I’m gonna reply here, since this was the last part of the conversation. Yes, I do have a mixed feeling about the song. That’s what I tried to say in De La Rey 2. Taking it on face value, I just listened to it, and kind of forgot about the song. It didn’t really touch my Afrikaner heart or anything, and I didn’t think it worthy of making a big scene about, I were much more uncomfortable with something like Klopjag’s “Nie Langer” initially.
I can’t say what the writer of the song intended, how would I know? But I can say what I percieve to be the interpretation given by people listening to it, and yes, I do think they understand the song to mean both Afrikaans speaking and white people. Thus not someone from any other race who speaks Afrikaans, and most don’t understand it to mean English speaking white people (although they will more readily accept the second than the first one, funny, since the song, taken simply on face value, actually talks quite negatively about the British).
Why do people listen to this song, why do it touch them in this way? I’m not sure, but I have a feeling that their reasons do not add to unity in South Africa. I hope this answers some of the questions on some of my ideas.

OK, ek reply nou wel in Engels, ek glo ons moet soveel moontlik mense deel maak van die gesprek, en Engels is die mees algemene taal wat ek magtig is, anders gaan ons net ‘n eensydige prentjie kry. Maar enige iemand kan in enige taal skryf. Maar as dit iets anders as Afrikaans, Engels of Nederlands is, gaan ek waarskynlik nie verstaan nie. Sal darem Duits nog so bietjie kan uitfigure, maar dis about dit:-)

3. Annemarie - March 24, 2007

Maybe the best way to continue the conversation is to actually hear what the white english people has to say about it.

The song is getting real boring, to be honest. Why do we add meaning to a song? Why do we create a symbol of it or something else?

4. cobus - March 25, 2007

Well, maybe the question “why” do not have an answer. That is just the way it is. When I read a poem, and you read a poem, we both come to it with our own story, and ‘meaning’ is created between the text of the poem, and my reading of the poem.
That is why I prefer to look at the way people understand the song, and not simply at the words. I don’t say that every understanding is a responsible way of interpreting the song, but it’s a fact that people give meaning to the song. And it is THAT meaning which influences our ideas, not whatever the writer would hypothetically have meant (although, as Pieter wrote, the writer of the song must have thought about what words like that would mean in the Afrikaans society today. And others have also said that they wonder if the writer are really that innocent. But, as I have said earlier, there is no way of knowing).
I think we create symbols because we experience the need for symbols.
This gets a little philosophical, don’t know if it makes sense…

5. aventer - March 25, 2007

It makes sense.

So what creates this need for symbols? Insecurity, uncertianty? Maybe we create symbols to have a better perception of something?

6. cobus - March 26, 2007

Is symbols bad? Watch Batman Begins. ‘If I become an icon…’
Symbols are created to find identity. All of us use symbols. Everyone would agree that baptism is at least a symbol, most would say it’s even more.

7. aventer - March 26, 2007

Well, you’ve got a point.

I geuss that symbols are’nt bad, maybe just confusing… Confusing becuase maybe we don’t always understand someone else’s symbol. Like De La Rey. I see it as just another song in Afrikaans, someone else may see it as a reason to still get up every morning.

So basically symbols are there to help us to understand ourselves better…?

8. cobus - March 26, 2007

Thing is, some might consider De La Rey as giving reminding them of the possibility of hope. Others see De La Rey as the possibility of suppresion.

9. Werner - April 1, 2007

De La Rey gets interperteted diferently. I personnally like the song as it shows me that Afrikaners and my forefathers isn’t just oppressors. It gives a message to me that says,” yes there was light and goodness in your history”. There was this man who stood his ground, fought for what he believed in, someone with courage. It makes me proud to be an Afrikaner. No I do not think I’m better that any other race, I’m just a sinful man made clean in Christ. But if the Scottish can have William Wallace, the English Winston Churchhill and the Americans George Washington, then why can’t I have Koos De La Rey without being a racist or Afrikaner Nationalist.

At parties some people sing De La Rey out loud whith their hands on their chests, most I would say doesn’t have any real conviction, they are just doing what the cool people in their context is doing, or becouse it is fun and they are drunk. They follow this patriotic “Afrikaner” display with Robbie Wessels se leeuloop, making an absolute joke of themselves.

This behaviour saddens me and makes me think of another song by a little known musician MG Uys called “Uit die Blou” Yes it is a political song, a deriviration of “Die Stem”. The song is about how we Afrikaners lost the track, how we stopped living for our God. I’m not sure if I interperet the song as it was intended, but to me it is about our declining morals and our rejection of God. Something that started a long time ago, Apartheid was one of the friuts of that moral and God centered decline.

There is another group at paties, they don’t sing along but is apalled by the song. It seames to me they are so ashamed of their heritage that they don’t think anything Afrikaans or Afrikaner could be good. I remember a time when I considdered all Afrikaans music bad. Still if I say the name Coenie de Villiers or Anneli van Rooyen, some people will look at me funny, even more so if I say Boeremusiek. I think the song also puts these people in the sutiation where they feel they agree with apartheid if they don’t condemn the song,

The song was sensationalized by the media. O how juicy it is to say De La Rey calls Afrikaners to arms against government and is fundamentally racist. And in doing so they inspire other groups to think we are racist when Bok van Blerck sells platinum.

Embrace being an Afrikaner and a South African!

10. ronelle - April 9, 2007

i think it wow and excelent.we ard proud.the war wasnt againtst blacks or coloureds.i love all people.we are all Gods children.go 4 it my bokkie.excelent.its something that did happen.and it was terrible.

11. I am an Afrikaner, I have no leader « my contemplations - June 15, 2009

[…] people seem to think we have no heroes. They sing of a guy named De La Rey, who lived 100 years ago. Some say that we sing of De La Rey because there has been no heroes after […]

12. Afrikaners: Remember the story of your tribe « my contemplations - October 30, 2009

[…] identity written after Amahoro 2009. I’ve been thinking about a number of Afrikaans songs for years now, and the song which probably best formulate the thoughts of many young white South Africans is that […]

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