“De la Rey” & “Afrikanerhart”
Bok van Blerk accepting the Best Selling Album Award for Afrikanerhart, South African Music Awards, 2010
In 2006 Afrikaans singer Bok van Blerk (the stage name of Louis Pepler) won notoriety in South Africa and abroad for a song and music video called “De la Rey.” The song ultimately made him famous and remains his best-known hit. To date he has released three studio albums and starred in four music videos and one movie.
“De la Rey” was perceived by the Establishment as a wicked expression of white pride. Racial pride and consciousness are reserved exclusively for Jews and non-whites. Rulers at once noticed the song had a deep emotional impact on Afrikaners.
The South African Ministry of Arts and Culture issued a statement declaring that “De la Rey” was “in danger of being hijacked by a minority of right wingers,” and “those who incite treason, whatever methods they might employ [i.e., songs, free speech], might well find themselves in difficulty with the law.”
“De la Rey” was the title track of Van Blerk’s first album, De la Rey (Mozi Records, 2006). In a literal sense the song is about the Second Boer War and the Afrikaner struggle against the British. A Boer soldier, after Lord Kitchener had implemented his scorched earth policy, calls upon General Koos de la Rey to come to the aid of the Boer Volk.
But hostile elites perceived the song as a metaphor for Afrikaners’ present-day dispossession. The plea for a leader was seen as a potentially dangerous call for resistance to the anti-white System.
(5:07 mins., Afrikaans with English subtitles)
(Note: English lyrics on the videos imperfectly capture the passion and spirit of the Afrikaans originals. Rhyme schemes, syllable counts, and other features are understandably lost.)
Indeed, the General de la Rey of the song corresponds to the mythical Arthur, invoked to expel foreigners, bring peace to the land, and establish a kingdom based upon justice, law, and morality.
The myth represents long-lost glory that is not truly lost: HIC IACET ARTHURUS, REX QUONDAM REXQUE FUTURUS (“Here lies Arthur, King that was, King that shall be.”)
The end is not really the end. The legendary figure lives on, with the power to symbolically restore the values he stood for in the form of a spiritual heir—not a golden age of impossible prosperity and contentment, not utopia, but liberation, control by a people of its own destiny, when individuals who deserve admiration are at the center of things and there is greatness and hope once again.
In the United States, reporter Michael Wines penned a condescending half-news article, half racist editorial about the song for the front page of the New York Times, “Song Wakens Injured Pride of Afrikaners.”
Echoing the South African government, the Times was disturbed that “a small knot of fans” at some Van Blerk concerts waved the old orange-and-blue flag of “apartheid South Africa” when “De la Rey” was sung.
Oh, yes! The all-seeing eye is everywhere! Not even a single song in an obscure language escapes their ken, or is too insignificant for international policing!
Indeed, the song struck a deep chord with many Afrikaners. At one Van Blerk appearance, 5,000 children stood, hands on heart, tears flowing, waving old South African flags as they sang along.
A South African television report in Afrikaans showed film footage of audiences, the majority of whom were surprisingly young. When the song started, they rose to their feet and swayed in unison, many with arms upraised.
On-camera comments by both men and women included the following.
“When I watch the video, I feel a tingle down my spine.”
“You listen to the song, you don’t know why you feel pride, but you do.”
“It gives you goose bumps.”
“It just makes you feel good, because you’re Afrikaans.”
“We are Boere and we need to stand together and remember our roots.”
“I get a very patriotic feeling inside when I hear the song.”
“I’m mad about the song. It makes me believe in what we were taught.”
“I put it in my CD player, and it had an immediate effect on me. They’ve stirred certain sentiments, they’ve awakened something that was slumbering.” (Emphasis added.)
The blonde Afrikaans reporter expressed concern about the use of the word Boere (plural). “Who are the Boere?” she asked. (In the US it would have been, “‘White’ is just a social construct.”)
On the front page of the New York Times Michael Wines played the same game. No one, least of all Afrikaners, he claimed, even know what an “Afrikaner” is anymore—except that most of them are racists. “De la Rey,” he said, had “become a vessel for those aspirations and fears.”
A young Afrikaner intellectual addressed this question in the broadcast. “That is the power of the song. It doesn’t argue about things. It cuts through it all straight to the emotion. It tells you who you are.” (Emphasis added.)
He also elucidated an obscure point concerning sensitivity over the word “Boer,” a label people seemed to fear. “Inside the group calling themselves Afrikaans [i.e., language speakers] is a smaller group calling themselves Afrikaners. And inside of it is an even smaller group who see themselves as Boere.”
A hostile, light-skinned black man said, “When I was growing up, Boer was the name for any white person—English, Afrikaner, whatever.”
“De la Rey” was written by Johan Vorster and Sean Else, former members of the Afrikaans band Eden, most of whose songs Vorster had written. The group won three Platinum albums and two South African Music Awards (SAMA) for best Afrikaans pop albums.
In 2005 Vorster and Sean Else founded Mozi Records; Bok van Blerk was the first artist they signed. Vorster wrote most of De la Rey, which became the highest-selling original Afrikaans album of all time with over 200,000 sold.
Vorster also wrote the scores for the popular musicals Ons vir Jou, Jock of the Bushveld, and Shaka, which were staged at the Nelson Mandela Theatre and the State Theatre in Pretoria in 2008, 2009 and 2010.
Johan Vorster of record company & music publisher Johan Vorster Songs
Sean Else, Johan Vorster, and Bok van Blerk collaborated on the Afrikaans-language theatrical film Platteland (2011-South African). Sean Else directed and co-wrote the screenplay, Vorster wrote the musical score, and Van Blerk co-starred.
Musically, many of Van Blerk’s songs are apolitical pop tunes.
“Habana!” from De la Rey glorifies black South African rugby player Bryan Habana, who three years later married blonde Afrikaner Janine Viljoen. “Girls in Bikinis,” like all of Van Blerk’s songs, is in Afrikaans, save for the single phrase “girls in bikinis.” “Vodka en OJ,” “’68 Chevy,” “Boeregirl,” and “Miss U.S.A.” are self-explanatory.
Van Blerk’s music video “Tannie Tina van Wyk” (3:30 mins., Afrikaans only), from his most recent album, My Kreet (2010), is a humorous song about the relationship between a fat older man and his slender young wife. It’s good at suggesting the range of the music, not all of which is serious.
The title track “My Kreet” is political, though artistically less successful than “Afrikanerhart” or “De la Rey.” (Music video in Afrikaans starring Van Blerk; second video with lyrics only in English.)
The music video “Tyd om te Trek?” (“Time to Go?”, Mozifilms, 2009; Afrikaans only) from Van Blerk’s second album Afrikanerhart (2009) depicts whites and blacks in conflict, but not in an unqualifiedly racialist manner. Van Blerk, however, single-handedly defeats a gang of black thugs.
“Die Kaplyn” (“The Cutline”) is about the South African Border War (1966–1989) against internationally-funded and -armed Communist insurgents in Angola and South West Africa. It is politically incorrect in the sense that it honors white troops who fought against black Communist proxies for globalist elites.
Vorster wrote and produced Afrikanerhart (“Afrikaner Heart”), which won the South African Music Award for best-selling album in South Africa in 2009/2010.
In my opinion, the title track “Afrikanerhart,” written by Johan Vorster for the musical Ons vir Jou about the battle of Magersfontein (1899) in the Second Boer War, is even more moving than the famous “De la Rey.”
Although the song’s lyrics do not mention it, General de la Rey commanded the Boer troops at Magersfontein, where 8,500 Boers defeated a British force of 14,964 men.
Among the British, the Highland Brigade suffered the heaviest losses; the battle was later commemorated with a pipe march called “The Highland Brigade at Magersfontein.”
On the Boer side, the Scandinavian Volunteer Corps consisting of Swedes, Danes, Finns, and Norwegians was wiped out. In a letter to President Paul Kruger, Boer General Piet Cronjé wrote that “next to God we can thank the Scandinavians for our victory.” A monument to the dead Norse stands on the battle site.
The Magersfontein of the song, however, is more symbolic than historical.
(4:38 mins., Afrikaans with English subtitles)
On the sleeve of Afrikanerhart Van Blerk included the following disclaimer in Afrikaans about the song:
“Afrikanerhart” is not a song that calls for any form of revolution or uprising. The song comes from the musical Ons vir Jou, and all that we want to say is that the Afrikaner also shed blood while building South Africa. If we respect all cultures and their history, we can together all make this country stronger.
Certainly Jews would be sending a subversive message if they wrote such a song. When bringing Communism to Russia and spreading it around the world they used a code referred to as “Aesopian language” to foil government officials.
So, are “De la Rey” and “Afrikanerhart” really about long-ago battles with the British, do they refer to contemporary society, or are they merely a dying echo of a once-living sensibility?
You’ll have to listen to them yourself to guess what a handful of artistically and economically successful and talented young Afrikaans musicians, producers, and songwriters are up to.
Without question, creating, marketing, and distributing professional quality songs, music videos, and movies of this nature demands a high level of creativity, initiative, hard work, determination, focus, persistence, cooperative effort, organizational ability, risk-taking, and business and political acumen.
In the South African television report mentioned earlier an Afrikaner man asserted, “People find a modern day meaning because they are tired of being afraid, tired of being ironic, tired of being cynical. They want to fight now.”
“‘De la Rey,’” a female Afrikaans intellectual added, “speaks to your heart. It says: You want to listen to me. You are a Boer, you are an Afrikaner. Recognize this identity in yourself.” (Emphasis added.)
Both songs exhibit a forceful ambiguity that stirs the heart and leaves even a cynic wondering.