Tuesday, June 5, 2007

De La Rey lyrics

"De La Rey" is a popular song written and performed by Bok van Blerk, I've read the lyrics and I've translated it to English as an exercise. This song has been playing at all the nightclubs and bars here in Stellenbosch since I arrived in January, although often in a remixed version. The song is about the Boer war general De La Rey and the fight against the British army, who outnumbered the Boers by far. In this war the british set up concentration camps with horrible conditions, resulting in thousands upon thousands of civilian deaths.


LYRICS (my English translation is in paranthesis)

Op 'n berg in die nag (on a mountain in the night)
lê ons in die donker en wag (we lie in the darkness and wait)
in die modder en bloed lê ek koud, (I lay in mud and blood, cold)
streepsak en reën kleef teen my (backpacks(?) and rain sticks to me)

en my huis en my plaas tot kole verbrand sodat hulle ons kan vang (and my house and my place are burned to coals so that they can catch us)
maar daai vlamme en vuur brand nou diep, diep binne my (but the flames and fire burn deep, deep inside of me)

De La Rey, De La Rey sal jy die Boere kom lei? (De La Rey, can you come lead the boers)
De La Rey, De La Rey
Generaal, generaal soos een man, sal ons om jou val. (General like a man, shall we fall with you)
Generaal De La Rey.

Oor die khakies wat lag (hear the british who laugh)
'n handjie van ons teen 'n hele groot mag (a handful of us against the whole great army)
en die kranse lê hier teen ons rug (and the cliffs are here against our backs)
hulle dink dis verby (they think it has passed)

Maar die hart van 'n Boer lê dieper en wyer, hulle gaan dit nog sien (but the heart of a boer is deeper and wider, they can still see it)
Op 'n perd kom hy aan, die Leeu van die Wes Transvaal (on a horse he comes, the lion from west-transvaal)

De La Rey, De La Rey sal jy die Boere kom lei? (de la rey, can you come lead the boers?)
De La Rey, De La Rey
Generaal, generaal soos een man, sal ons om jou val. (general as a man,shall we fall with you)
Generaal De La Rey.

Want my vrou en my kind lê in 'n kamp en vergaan (because my wife and my child are in a [concentration] camp, decaying)
en die khakies se murg loop oor 'n nasie wat weer op sal staan. (and the british's marrow runs over a nation which shall rise again)

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 (general like a man, shall we fall with you?)
Generaal De La Rey.


L. Pauling said...

Excellent, good old war-song, filled with motivation to crush the English.

Plingvild said...

Fascinating - is there still resentment towards the British in SA? I think it's interesting how concentration camps are associated with the Nazis when in fact they were a British invention. Very emotional song/lyrics/video - how is stuff like this impacting on politically correct friendly and tolerant thoughts and actions, I wonder? And isn't it odd when people don't sing in English (or is that just me?) ;-)

Anonymous said...

There is a great difference between the SA-camps, that were coined as concentration c. due to the overrowding etc., to the German camps. Dreadful as the SA-c.s were, they are not the same as the German camps, as these were designed to kill, they were an actual device for genocide. According to different encyclopedias, the SA-camps were not intended to kill, as were not the camps in Kenya or the Indian reservations, for that matter. Of course, that does not by any means exuse or diminish the horrors of SA-camps, but there is a difference.

øyg said...

på tide med en aldri så liten oppdatering?

øyg said...

hallo fetterfyr, nå er det en stund siden forrige oppdatering.. :)

Hugh said...

It's a good song, but I hope it doesn't get remembered as a symbol for nationalism

a 'streepsak' is like a grain-pouch,
and 'hulle gaan dit nog sien' means 'as they shall see'

mooi bly julle!

Anonymous said...

Overall a good attempt at the translation.

This line...
Generaal, generaal soos een man, sal ons om jou val (general like a man, shall we fall with you?)

is actually translated in its meaning as, "General, we will follow you as one"

Anonymous said...

'streepsak' in this case perhaps sandbag- burlap grain sack filled with sand to protect the trenches?

Anonymous said...

Its a nice song, I won't lie. Please allow me to translate it for you as well, as I would do it. please send me ur email adress. Mine is dewetw@mailbox.co.za. Thanx!!

Anonymous said...

This song created quite an uproar in SA when it first came out. Its a beautiful song that arouses pride in a nation that at one stage was down trodden. plingvild i dont think there is a lot recentment towards the british in sa. this song was written to tell the story of a small group of men that defeated the british army.in many ways the concentration camps in germany and sa differ yes but the sad part is that we forget the torture the victims went through. in sa over 50 000 women and children died in those camps. songs such as de la rey are good because they remind as a world community not to repeat the mistakes of yesterday.people attach to much symbolism to the song as it was considered racist and hate speech but it isn't. its a history lesson.

Tired of this Planet I live on said...

I am so tired of these Afrikaans people going on about De La Rey and the Boer War. They live in the past. I know this is part of history and must be respected but that anger still remains. It's well over 100 years. Noone is alive that's responsible for anything. Move on Dammit!

Anonymous said...

From what I understand, the women and children in the SA concentration camps were used as shields. So as the Boer were shooting the Brits, the Brits would hold the Boers' family members in front of themselves as shields and the women and children actually ended up being shot by South Africans.
However, De la Rey is a very beautiful song. Thank you so much for translating and for the others who made the translation more complete.

Anonymous said...

Just another myth about the 'poor, brave, noble' Boers... let's get the facts straight: in 1899, the Boers were the ones who attacked the British colonies of Cape Colony and Natal, and at the beginning of the war, they outnumbered the scattered Imperial garrisons by 2:1.
When the Boer armies were subsequently shattered, a few thousand die-hards fought on in what would today be called a terrorist campaign. Many thousands of Boers fought on the British side - something that no one admits to these days.

Yes, people died in the camps and that is tragic, but they were mainly the old and infirm, and infants - the sort of people who were likely to die anyway, especially in those times. Indeed, in some of the camps, the mortality rate was actually lower than amoung 'free' people.

Great song and stirring stuff - but ahistorical nonsense.

Anonymous said...

The concentration camp was not a British invention - the Spanish used them several years earlier.

Anonymous said...

ok the second 2 last guy, the rittish attacked us 1st because we didn't want 2 allow them 2 mine our gold and diamonds ok....so stop trying to change the facts budy! OK!

MekongFisher said...

The second to last guy seems to be one of those pricks who can only see the trees but not the entire forest which is a critical difference between somebody who actually is an intellectual student of history and just a lackey who wants to show off how much he knows.

Sure, initially the Boers had numerical advantage. Yes, there were Boers who fought on the side of Britain. But what's critical in historical analysis of the Boer War (or any historic materials for that matter) is the poignant yet the complicated force that perceptions and remembrance of history takes form as. Bringing those few "as a matter of facts" is, in the overall study of history, irrelevant to the general position of the Boer War in Afrikaner national psyche.

Great song, one of those that makes me want to learn Afrikaans and sing along in a bar with a big group of folks. Pity that there is a minority of anachronistic, past-ridden, delusional and pitiful souls who are trying to hijack the song to give a wrong message.

Anonymous said...

Its is a beautiful song, and fill me with pride, and a sense of being.I am afrikaans myself. I see there are a few idiots on this site. Just remeber we afrikaaners were in south africa long before the british. Who like parasites came and updet the apple cart so to speak.The boers fought the british who like cowards adopted a scorched earth policy on the boer farms and had their famalies put into concentration camps. people died in their thousand due to the british, my great grandmother was one of the survivors of a camp. And the British have still not paid for the lives lost in those camps. Funny how hitlers minions had to pay for the loss of lives yet we afrikaaners are still waiting for justice to be done. And the song is historically correct. by du Plessis.

O'Neill said...

To many here know nothing about this war. Sinse most talk of concentration camps, here is some truths.

My mother is now 85 and her father and uncles were in battle. Some under De Wet and 1 under Cronje. 1 ucle did not fight and remained on his farm.

Kithener came along and with his scorched earth tactic made it a 'SPORT' shooting civillians with rewards for the most bagged kills. we talking about women and children here.

The uncle that stayed on his farm died in a 'HELL CAMP' as they were known with his wife and kids. The so called POW discovered broken glass in their meal (ground maize) rations...this was murder and nothing less. Emily Hobbhouse is witness to all this.

the 1st peace accord was signed in my great great grandfathers house at Majuba, the house still stands as a monument to this day and known as O'Neills Cottage in Natal.

The Anglo-Boer war was the worst war in 100 years of GB history.

Anonymous said...

dd somebody say "steal our gold and diamonds"? really

Anonymous said...

he problem I have with most white afrikaans speaking folk is, They seem to have a misplaced sense of entitlement.

Let me explain, They sing the “De la rey” song and wave the Apatheid flag and even sing the old anthem. But yet they are the first to cry foul when Julius sings “Dhabula Ibhunu” or “Shoot the Boer”.

At first I didn’t understand the meaning of “shoot the boer” and frankly I found it offensive. But I engaged a lot of Africans and asked them what the song really means. It turns out that the song was a revolutionary song sang during the struggle. It was sang to rally the people against the Apatheid system enforced by the “Boers”. By the way, all African nations that had a revolutionary movement have such songs. My Zimbabwean gardener tells me they even had more vile revolutionary songs. The "Shoot the Boer" song is in itself a valid revolutionary song.

However, one can ask is it appropriate to sing such a song when we are trying to bridge the racial divide?

The answer is NO, and neither are songs like “de la rey” and waving the Apatheid era flag. Both songs belong in the museums. I find such actions embracing and disgusting. Its people who act like this who make me watch rugby matches at home or at pubs because I can’t stand such unruly behaviour.

Sadly, even young people join in these acts of madness. They should be better than us at healing this broken land. Shame on us. What legacy are we leaving and what lessons are we teaching them?

In short, what I am saying is if we don’t want “them” to sing “shoot the boer”, “we” should also desist from such reckless and destructive gestures.

Please stop blurring our reputation. Its not all off us who subscribe to such

David Kent

Anonymous said...

I spent two months in SA primarily with Afrikaaners, and I did note a lot of negative sentiment towards "British" South Africans. At one point it was even mildly directed towards me because I spoke English, even though I was an eastern European-descended Canadian with no British blood.

Anonymous said...

Dude, if you're gonna make the effort to translate the song, at least translate it Properly! Daar is onkruit in jou taaltuin! Maak die moeite om jou taal suiwer te hou.

Anonymous said...

it's such nice song of a war,but i think it promotes segregations again if we can still sing it.

Anonymous said...

it's such nice song of a war,but i think it promotes segregations again if we can still sing it.

Anonymous said...

Hey, an Englishman here. please Don't hate me for what my ancestors did, one of a handfull of stuff i am not proud of my country for is the Boer war. we were assholes, and I wish we never set foot on south Africa as it is for the Afrikaners. You Boers are always welcome here in England.

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Anonymous said...

Broken land, being ravaged and degraded by a subclass of human. I cannot blame the boer for wanting to live separate from the murderous an unconstructive black. Zimbabwe is a great country now isn't it. Yes we can be one, it's just going to take another 400 years of evolution before we can truly call ourselves the same species.

Jonathan Hilier said...

Its niuce that you took the time to translate the song but your translation needs a little improvement

De La Rey, De La Rey sal jy die Boere kom lei?(De La Rey, can you come lead the boers)

Should have been translated to:
De La Rey, De La Rey, will you lead the boers)

Generaal, generaal soos een man, sal ons om jou val. (General like a man, shall we fall with you)

Should have been

General General like one man, shall we fall with you

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