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User Name Thread Name Subject Posted
Jo Taylor Lyr Req: My Sari Marais? / Sarie Marais (31) Lyr Add: MY SARIE MARAIS 13 Dec 99

Here's a lot about it from a South African family history mailing list - sorry, I haven't put line breaks in the words, but I expect only the really interested will read them & work it out! Apologies for any punctuation / continuity discrepancies but I just copied it over quickly. There was more - if interested go to here , enter SOUTH-AFRICA-L and then MARAIS... Hope this is of interest...
Jo Taylor
The famous South African song "Sarie was named after a farmer's wife in the district. Sarie was born on May 10, 1840, and married Louis Nel of Umvoti County, Greytown district after her 17th birthday. Her honeymoon was spent trekking by ox Wagon to the Cape before they settled on the farm Welgegund, near Kranskop. After giving birth to her 11th child at the age of 37, Sane died on December 27, 1877, and was buried on her farm. One of her sons, the Reverend Paul Nel, was chaplain to the Boer forces early in 1902 when General Louis Botha was massing his forces near Louwsberg for the third invasion of Natal and, around the campfire, Paul used to tell stories about his beautiful mother. When Ella de Wet, wife of one of General Botha's staff members, arrived at the farm where the Boers were concentrated, she entertained them on the farmhouse piano. The only songbook available was an American publication, "The Cavendish Song Book", and the most popular song in it was "Ellie Rhee". The refrain went: " Then carry me back to Tennessee Back where I long to be, Amid the fields of yellow corn To my darling Ellie Rhee." The Boer soldiers put their own words to the song and substituted Sarie Marais for Ellie Rhee. After the war, Mrs Ella de Wet arranged the tune and had it published as "Sarie-Marais - 'n Afrikaanse volkslied." Inside the Greytown Museum you'll find the story of Sarie Marais, her photograph, and photos of her grave on the farm.

Does the museum mention the fact that "Sweet Ellie Rhee" was in fact a so-called Plantation song? The song is found in "The Scottish Student's Song Book" - the FAK many instances is almost a carbon copy...but in another language...some American Civil War songs were adapted for the Boer War, e.g. "Just Before the Battle, Mother" = "Wanneer kom ons troudag Gertjie?" & "Marching Through Georgia" = "Ons Burgers is getrou". A cross-cultural/cross-continental peripheral glimpse is likely to reveal that an earlier 'American dream' inspired not only Europeans but also the it a coincidence that the flag of the Orange Free State is loosely based on the design of that Star-Spangled Banner?

"Sweet Ellie Rhee" is largely forgotten and would now be deemed by some as being Politically Incorrect. Revived, it makes for an exciting gospel-like experience. "Sarie Marais", which tune has been somewhat de-African-Americanised, on the other hand, became more internationally famous as a 'South African' march tune as a result of SA's participation in the two World Wars. It is also the school song of Kobe High School in Japan...

>It seems as it there is more than one version of the words in circulation. Maybe the words have changed over the years as each successive generation adapts the words to fit its vernacular. I have consulted two "informal" publications for the words: One is the "Sangbundel" of the "Federasie van Bonde van J.V.'s op GG in SA" published April 1979; the other is the ACK ACK (Anti Aircraft regiment('s)) "Let us Sing" - no indication of a publication date, but it must have been the early 70's. Both deviate from those given by Barend. The words - taken from the ACK ACK "Let us Sing" are as follows: (These are also the words I've learned as a youngster)

VERSIE 1 My Sarie Marais is so ver van my af
En ek hoop om haar weer te sien
Sy het in die wyk van die Mooirivier gewoon,
Nog voor die oorlog het begin

KOOR (Chorus) O bring my terug na die ou Transvaal
Daar waar my Sarie woon
Daar onder in die mielies by die groen doringboom
Daar woon my Sarie Marais

VERSIE 2 Ek was tog so bang dat die Kakies my sou vang,
En ver oor die see sou stuur
Toe vlug ek na die kant van die Upingtonse strand,
Daaronder by die Grootrivier (Repeat chorus)

VERSIE 3 Verlossing het gekom en die huistoegaan was daar
Terug na die ou Tranvaal
My lieflingspersoon sal seker ook daar wees
Om my met 'n kus te beloon (Repeat chorus)

VERSIE 4 (I must admit, this verse was unknown to me prior to encountering it in the army. Perhaps it can be attributed to a creative gunner ;-). However, since it appears in both my sources - and also because the language used seems to be authentic for the post Boer War period - I assume it must have been added in the early years of the century.)

Die Kakies is mos soos 'n krokedillepes,
Hulle sleep jou altyd water toe.
Hulle gooi jou op 'n skip vir 'n lange, lange "trip",
Die josie weet waarnatoe. (Repeat chorus)
Now contrast the above with the words from Barend's source (Barend, maybe the above is more like what you've learnt as a boy. Interesting to see that your source does not have a fourth verse!)

My Sarie Mare is so ver van my hart.
Om haar nooit weer te sien,
Sy het in die wyk van die Mooi Rivier gewoon,
Voor dat die oorlog begin,

O' altyd was sy bang dat die
Khakies my sou vang, en ver oor die groot vlei, stuur,
Of sit my in 'n skip en stuur my vir 'n trip,
Ver van die Mooi Rivier,

Verlossing het gekom, en huistoe gaan was daar,
T'rug na die ou Transvaal,
My lieflings persoon sal seker ook daar syn
Om my met 'n kus te onthaal.

Koor: O neem my terug na die ou Transvaal,
Daar waar my Sarie woon,
Daar onder in die mielies by die groen doring boom,
Daar woon my Sarie Mare.

I have in my possession two English newspaper-clippings with regard to the above. The following are verbatim quotes as it was published. (Please note that the surname Mare is spelled with an e with an accent. For those of you whose systems can display it in Windows, it should be Maré)

1. A column "Jan Burger's Diary" (unfortunately not dated nor newspaper's name mentioned - perhaps somebody out there can identify it more appropriately? I believe it may have been from the 70's ?)

In many overseas countries I have visited there is a mistaken believe that South Africa's national anthem is the well-known "Sarie Marais." Few people seem to know of "Die Stem." While visiting the Grand Canyon in America, I met an Indonesian publisher who speaks Dutch fluently, and as soon as he heard I was from South Africa, he started singing the first verse of "Sarie Marais." "That is your anthem, isn't it?" he asked. He was startled to learn that it is only considered a folk tune in South Africa and nothing else. Recently I did some investigation into the origin of this popular tune which even had a magazine named after it in South Africa, and discovered some facts which I had not known. First, the "Sarie Marais" of the ditty really spelt her name "Mare" and not "Marais." Her full name was Susara Margaretha Mare and the song was composed by her husband, at the time still her fiancé.

His name was Jacobus Petrus Toerien, better known as "Jepete," a poet from the first Afrikaans language movement. One of the 16 children of Jacobus Toerien and Sarie Mare still lives in Ermelo where he is a nurseryman. He is called Japie Toerien. I discovered too that most South Africans are completely wrong in thinking that the song "Sarie Marais" referred to the Anglo-Boer War. It has nothing to do with it.

What happened was this. The poet Jacobus Petrus Toerien was a man from Paarl who came to Pretoria to publish a newspaper, "De Republiken." Here he met the attractive Sarie Mare and fell in love with her: While on leave in Paarl he longed so much for his newfound love that he wrote the song "Sarie Marais." It must have been about 1884. The line "...nog voor die oorlog het begin" probably refers to the First Anglo-Boer War of 1881. Or it may have been added later by an unknown person.

Sarie Mare was the daughter of Jacob Mare, at that time a member of the executive council of the South African Republic, and the person after whom the street near the Pretoria station was called. He sometimes acted as President when Paul Kruger was away. She was about 12 years younger than her husband, Jacobus Toerien. She died on December 22, 1939. Mr Toerien himself was a very able man. He composed poems in three languages - Dutch, Afrikaans and English.

2. The Star, Saturday Feb 21 1976.
A photograph believed to be of Sarie Mare, the woman about whom the popular South African song "Sarie Marais" was written, is one of Mrs P C Viljoen's most treasured possessions. Mrs Viljoen believes it is the only original photograph in South Africa of Sarie taken when she was a little girl. The photograph of Susare Margaretha "Sarie" Mare and her two sisters Maria and Aletha was taken at Standerton when she was about 12. It was given to Mrs Viljoen, of Lydenburg, by her father, Mr Jacob Mare, Sarie's nephew. "According to my father, who always referred to "Tant Sarie" as his favourite aunt, the song was written by her fiancé, Mr J P Toerien, in 1899," Mrs Viljoen said. Captured during the South African War, he wrote, the words of the song on board the ship on which he was being taken to Ceylon as a prisoner of war. So far the English newspaper-clippings. See next message for more.

The following is a quotation from Die Bondgenoot - November 1975. Under the heading "ONS AFRIKAANSE VOLKSLIEDERSKAT deur Jan Strydom. "...Net soos die popgroepe van vandag, was daar sedert die begin van die vorige eeu "minstrel"-groepe wat oral baie gewild was en vol sale getrek het. Een so 'n groep was die Christy Minstrels, wat Suid-Afrika in 1862 besoek het. Een van die liedjies op hulle program was Ellie Rhee, geskryf deur Septimus Winner op die melodie van "The Foggy Dew." Hierdie Ellie Rhee het baie gou bekend geword, nie net in die Kaapprovinsie nie maar ook in Natal en die Boere-republieke. "Die volgende hoofstuk van die verhaal speel hom in Pretoria af, waar Jacobus Petrus Toerien in 1885 getroud is met Susara Margaretha Mare. Toerien het aktief deelgeneem aan die stryd vir die erkenning van Afrikaans. In 1900 skryf hy Afrikaanse woorde vir die melodie van Ellie Rhee en dra die liedjie op aan sy vrou, Sarie Mare..."

I also have a copy of a letter written by M Hein Repertoire Department of Southern African Music Rights Organisation Limited. (SAMRO) to a Mrs E Unsworth of Geduld (Springs) dated 23 July 1976 that reads as follows. "Thank you for your visit to our offices with further documentation to substantiate your claim that your late father, Mr. Jacobus Petrus Toerien, was the author of the lyrics of Sarie Mare. "This letter confirms that our registration of the work has been amended to show it to be an adaptation of the melody of ELLIE RHEE, composer Septimus WINNER (non-copyright), with Afrikaans lyrics written by Jacobus Petrus TOERIEN (non-copyright). "SAMRO's sister societies in other parts of the world have been informed so that they may also register the correct details... signed M Hein.

The purpose of my quoting all this is to illustrate that everything that appears in print is not necessarily the truth. Mistakes can be made by anybody, and so often this mistake is propagated further because it has been "legitimized by publication". One should always try to verify information from more than one independent source. In my opinion, it is therefore imperative always to quote your sources or references in genealogical research. Who really was the author of the song Sarie Marais? I don't know but I merely stated another opinion published previously.

HTML line breaks added. Hope I got them in the right places. --JoeClone, 4-Sep-02.

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