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Archive for the ‘Eugene Marais’ Category

Ek wonder ook…. waar sou Eugene Marais die artikel so gou onder die neus kon hê – en ‘n legende sal dit bly – waar of nie waar nie. Indien dit nie regtig gebeur het nie, is dit steeds ‘n legende – hoeveel legendes is daar in ons wêreld wat slegs verhale is wat ‘oorvertel‘ is – vir die waarheid – of vir nie-waarheid. Dis vir jou om te besluit of jy dit wil glo of nie. Dus, waarom die groot ‘bohaai’? Ek was vir 10 dae ‘tuis’ en het die Beeld artikel ook by my – die link van die meegaande nuusartikel uit die Burger is heel onder aan die pos vir jou om die oorspronklike artikel te lees – met nog ‘n foto – van die Amerikaanse meisie. Nadat ek die artikel gelees het – en ek is ‘n groot aanhanger van E Marais! – het ek teruggesit en vir myself gevra: ‘Waarom die bohaai?’ – so what? Vir my sal die verhaal steeds dieselfde betekenis hê, dit verander geensins my opinie oor enige iemand nie.

Was Racheltjie eintlik ’n Amerikaner?

2012-10-06 05:43

G. Olwagen en Leo Kritzinger

Die vermoede dat die Voortrekker-heldin Racheltjie de Beer ’n versinsel is, bou al lank op omdat genealogiese navorsing geen getuienis kan vind wat met die gegewens in dié bekende verhaal strook nie. Die joernaliste G. Olwagen en Leo Kritzinger voer aan dat die verklaring dalk by die enigmatiese Eugène Marais gesoek moet word. 

Die vermiste skakel in die raaisel oor die herkoms van die heldeverhaal van Racheltjie de Beer – waaroor daar volgens navorsers groot vraagtekens hang – is waarskynlik niemand minder nie as “die Wonderwerker” van die huidige fliektreffer, die Afrikaanse regsgeleerde, natuurkundige, digter en skrywer Eugène Marais.

Die eerste opgetekende vertelling van die Racheltjie-heldedaad is in April 1921 in die Afrikaanse tydskrif Die Boerevrou deur Marais gedoen. 

Nou blyk dit dat dié vertelling merkwaardige ooreenkomste toon met ’n ware Amerikaanse gebeurtenis die vorige jaar: die dood van Hazel Miner (15) in Maart 1920 in ’n sneeustorm in Noord-Dakota in ’n poging om haar boetie en sussie van verkluiming te red. Hulle het verdwaal, nes met Racheltjie en haar boetie sou gebeur het.

Genealoë wonder reeds lank of onse Racheltjie regtig bestaan het. Ook die skrywers van hierdie artikel is al minstens twee keer met ’n fyn kam deur die ou De Beer-geslagregister, en nêrens lyk dit of daar iemand is wat sy kon gewees het nie.

Maar selfs al was sy dan nie daar nie, redeneer sommiges, bly sy ’n onlosmaaklike deel van ons kultuur­erfenis omdat haar legende tog ‘‘van geslag tot geslag’’ deur Afrikaners oorgedra is.

Ook dié stelling het ons egter begin hinder, want hoekom skitter Racheltjie so deur haar afwesigheid in enige geskrifte voor die begin van die derde dekade van die 20ste eeu? Die 19e-eeuse geskiedskrywer Gustav Preller het niks oor haar gerep nie, en dekades later ook nie eens die gerekende Afrikaanse Kinderensiklopedie wat in die 1950’s verskyn het nie.

Die eintlike besluit om verder op die saak in te gaan, het gevolg op ’n skrywe deur die joernalis Hennie van Deventer, Naspers se voormalige uitvoerende hoof van koerante, wat op sy blog dié vraag gestel het: Kan dit wees dat ons almal se kinderheldin slegs ’n mite is?

Die vernaamste aansporing was egter nog altyd die opspraakwekkende bevinding in 2002 deur die genealoë Diwwie en Jaleen de Beer dat hulle niemand, maar niemand, in hul omvattende familieregister kon vind wat die ware Racheltjie kon gewees het nie. 

Die De Beers was verstaanbaar huiwerig om te sê sy het nooit gelewe nie, want watter sterfling onder ons weet in elk geval alles van ons voorgeslagte se doen en late?

Maar selfs as sy dan maar net ’n volkslegende is, waar kon so ’n storie dan posgevat het? Is ’n mens dit nie verskuldig aan daardie mense wat selfs skole en wie-weet-hoeveel strate en ander dinge na haar genoem het om agter die kap van die byl te probeer kom nie? Racheltjie is selfs uitgebeeld in een van die tonele op die Kindermonument, op die fasade van die Sondagskoolgebou van die NG kerk in Bloemfontein, wat aan Suid-Afrikaanse kinderhelde gewy is.

Vandag onthou tallose Afrikaners hoe hulle kleintyd deur die verhaal van Racheltjie geboei is en nooit in die minste oor haar getwyfel het nie. 

Dit is sulke mense wat maklik verontwaardig sal reageer op die volgende stellings wat ons nou gedwonge voel om te maak: Racheltjie de Beer se naam is nie slegs nêrens in die De Beers se geslagsregister opgeteken nie, sy is in der waarheid Racheltjie Niemand.

Haar verhaal is die eerste keer vertel etlike dekades nadat sy veronderstel is om te gelewe het. En om ons “kettery” tot die uiterste te voer: Sy was geen Afrikaner-heldinnetjie nie, want ons het haar roerende storie by die Amerikaners oorgeneem.

Vir die Amerikaners van Noord-Dakota is daar oorgenoeg bewyse dat Hazel Miner ’n kind van vlees en bloed was. As 15-jarige het sy werklik haar lewe opgeoffer om dié van haar 10-jarige boetie, Emmet, en 8-jarige sussie, Myrdith, in ’n sneeustorm te red.

As plaaskinders van Center in Oliver County, Noord-Dakota, het Hazel en haar broer en suster ’n eenmanskool bygewoon. Op ’n dag in Maart 1920 is hulle vroeg huis toe gestuur weens ’n naderende sneeustorm. Hulle sou die sowat 3 km huis toe ry met ’n hoë slee wat deur ’n perd getrek is, maar die perd het op loop gesit, en hulle is magteloos in die storm ingesleep.

Naderhand was die sneeu só verblindend dat Hazel besef het hulle het verdwaal. Boonop het die slee toe ’n obstruksie getref en omgeslaan. Die kinders het vergeefs probeer om die slee weer regop te kry.

Uitgelewer aan die elemente in die ysige weer, het Hazel besluit om die omgekeerde bak van die slee as hul skuiling te gebruik, en sy het ’n kombers daaronder uitgesprei. Sy het haar boetie en sussie aangesê om daarop te gaan lê – en dan het sy ’n tweede kombers oor hulle gesprei.

Hierna het sy bo-oor hulle gaan lê om hulle warm te hou. Sy het hulle bemoedig en geweier om self onder die boonste kombers in te klim omdat sy dit haar plig geag het om hulle te beskerm. Naderhand was haar stem stil.

Só is sy dan gevind, eers 25 uur nadat die kinders die skool verlaat het, verkluim bo-op die ander twee kinders, met haar jas voor oopgeknoop en met haar arms oor hulle uitgesprei in ’n deernisvolle optrede van beskutting. Onder haar, steeds lewend, was Emmet en Myrdith.

Hazel is nadoods as ’n heldin in haar omgewing gehuldig, veral nadat haar verhaal op 15 Januarie 1921 in ’n artikel in The North Dakota Children’s Home Finder vertel is. Daar is vertel hoe hierdie ‘‘beskermengel van die prêries onder ’n dik laag sneeu haar eie lewe gegee het om haar broer en suster te red’’. 

’n Kinderwelsynsorganisasie wou haar verhaal gebruik om geld vir ’n weeshuis in te samel. Kinders regoor Noord-Dakota het uiteindelik geld bymekaargemaak sodat ’n monument vir haar opgerig kon word.

Marais se Racheltjie-verhaal het in Die Boerevrou van April 1921 verskyn – slegs enkele maande nadat die Hazel-verhaal in Januarie 1921 in die Home Finder beskryf is. 

In die vorige uitgawe van Die Boerevrou, in Maart 1921, het Marais geskryf oor ’n ander ‘‘dapper Afrikanermeisie’’, Annie Lotrie. Die Boerevrou, die eerste Afrikaanse tydskrif eksklusief vir vroue, is in 1919 met Marais se aanmoediging deur Mabel Malherbe gestig.

Die Marais-kenner Leon Rousseau bevestig ook in een van sy werke dat die verhaal van Racheltjie sover bekend die eerste keer in Die Boerevrou opgeteken is.

’n Mens kan nou kwalik anders as om een van twee afleidings te maak:

Eerstens, dat Marais die Amerikaanse verhaal te lese gekry het of op ’n ander manier daarvan te hore gekom het, waarna hy die kerndeel daarvan bewustelik verafrikaans het. Letterdiefstal of plagiaat kan ons dit weliswaar nie noem nie, want die milieus en omstandighede van die twee stories is te verskillend. Hy kon bes moontlik die verhaal as fiksie bedoel het, maar in die vorm van ’n historiese vertelling.

Tweedens kon Marais inderdaad die verhaal by iemand anders gehoor het, iemand wat sy eie versinsel gepleeg het met die Amerikaanse geval as sy riglyn.

Maar die verskyning slegs ’n maand of drie van mekaar van twee vertellings oor ’n tienermeisie wat met onbaatsugtige liefde haar lewe gee om ’n boetie (of boetie en sussie) te red wat tydens ’n sneeustorm in ’n hol beskutting in die oopte gelê het, moet ’n mens oortuig dat daar ’n verband moet wees. 

Dat sulke eenderse verhale amper gelyk in Amerika en Suid-Afrika gepubliseer is, kan eenvoudig nie as toeval afgemaak word nie, hoe ’n mens ook al daarna kyk.

Ander ooreenkomste tussen die twee vertellings bestaan ook, soos dat Hazel en Rachel (in Engels uitgespreek) baie eenders klink. 

En oor De Beer kan ’n mens bespiegel om die feit dat Hazel se van Miner was en dat De Beers die groot mynhuis in Suid-Afrika was! Maar kom ons aanvaar liewer dat die familienaam De Beer lukraak deur Marais (of dan sy informant) gekies is.

Dit was dus nie vir ons moontlik om te bepaal presies hoe die Hazel/Racheltjie-vertelling sy Afrikaanse baadjie gekry het nie. Kenners van die raaiselmens wat Marais was, sal met oneindig meer gesag kan praat oor sy moontlike aandeel in dié “misleiding” al dan nie.

Wat ons nietemin in ons ondersoek geïnteresseer het, is die sporadiese aanduidings dat hy goed in staat was om ’n spel tussen fiksie en werklikheid aan te bied, soos in “’n Voëlparadys” in Die Mielies van Nooitgedacht, en selfs dat dit Marais nie gehinder het nie om ’n teks namens ’n kind te skryf sodat sy dit onder haar naam vir ’n wedstryd in Die Boerevrou kon instuur (“Die Skepbekertjie”). 

Maar dit sê eintlik niks daarvan of Marais wel iemand was wat doelbewus ’n leuenstorie soos dié oor Racheltjie as die werklikheid sou kon verkondig nie.

Dit is voorts seker belangrik om te sê dat die praktyk om fiktiewe verhale oortuigend as historiese vertellings aan te bied, blykbaar niks vreemds vir daardie tyd was nie.

Moet ons dan nou maar finaal tot siens sê aan Racheltjie as een van die groot heldinne in Afrikaners se volksgeskiedenis? Ons vrees so. 

Maar as mense die storie van haar selfopofferende liefdesdaad wil aanhou vertel, wie kan sê hulle moet dit nie doen nie? Racheltjie, fiktief soos sy is, het steeds ’n baie belangrike boodskap vir ons almal.

Die verhaal van Racheltjie de Beer

Volgens oorlewering was die twaalfjarige Racheltjie de Beer in 1843 met haar ouers en sesjarige boetie, Japie, op die trekpad op soek na grond in die binneland toe hulle onderweg op ’n reeds gevestigde boer se plaas oornag het. 

’n Kalfie genaamd Frikkie, waarvoor die kinders baie lief was, raak weg, en die kinders is deel van die soekgeselskap. Maar dan raak hulle geskei van die ander soekers en verdwaal.

’n Sneeustorm bars los en dit word nag, maar hulle vind ’n groot miershoop wat dan deur Racheltjie uitgehol word (of reeds tevore deur ’n erdvark uitgehol is). 

Racheltjie en Japie kan nie albei in die holte pas nie. Onbaatsugtig trek sy egter al haar klere uit, trek dit vir haar boetie aan en beveel hom om in die miershoop te klim. Dan gaan lê sy voor die bek van die uitgeholde miershoop as verdere beskerming vir kleinboet Japie… waar haar lewelose liggaampie die volgende dag gevind word. 

Danksy haar eindelose liefde het Japie die nag in die sneeu oorleef.


’n Skokkende teorie, maar dit kort verdere getuienis, sê Leon Rousseau

Die meegaande artikel is vir kommentaar voorgelê aan Leon Rousseau, gesaghebbende Marais-kenner:

Ek moet beken dat Ollie Olwagen en Leo Kritzinger se artikel vir my ’n skok was.

Ek het met die storie van Racheltjie de Beer grootgeword, ek het dit in 1984 in Storieman opgeneem en dit verskyn weer in die heruitgawe van die Storieman-reeks waarmee Human & Rousseau nou besig is. 

Bowendien is dit een van die stories in Kotzé se Dapper kinders van Suid-Afrika (1962). Prof. D.J. (Dirk) Kotzé was ’n gesiene geskiedkundige.

As dié nuwe teorie gegrond is, beteken dit dat die kultuurbesit van die Afrikaner verder verskraal word. Rachel kan in een asem genoem word met Wolraad Woltemade. Hulle is ons aangrypendste helde.

Gustav Preller sou miskien gesê het: Verswyg die teorie ter wille van die volksaak. Dit kan ons ongelukkig nie meer doen nie.

Marais se vertelling in Die Boerevrou word duidelik nie as fiksie aangebied nie, maar as ’n greep uit die geskiedenis. Ek sien twee moontlikhede:

1. Marais het fragmente van ’n oorgelewerde heldedaad by iemand gehoor en oortuigende besonderhede bygevoeg, miskien selfs die heldin se voornaam, sonder om aan die wesenlike waarheid van die relaas te twyfel.

2: Marais het die storie willens en wetens uit sy duim gesuig omdat hy geweet het dat dit, veral in daardie tyd van ontluikende patriotisme en ’n verlange na volkstrots, groot byval sou vind. MER se Kinders van die Voortrek het toe kort tevore (1920) verskyn. Dit kan selfs wees, soos Olwagen en Kritzinger meen, dat hy die heldedaad van Hazel Miner by Suid-Afrikaanse omstandighede aangepas het. 

Maar sou ’n Amerikaanse voorbeeld nodig gewees het? Marais sou ’n groot aantal “kampvuurstories” geken het, miskien ook oor mense wat in sneeustorms verkluim. Sy lewendige verbeelding kon tot die heldedaad bygevoeg het.

Toe Marais die storie geskryf het, vroeg in 1921, het hy sonder morfien klaargekom. ’n Selfs tydelike oorwinning oor die dwelm het hom altyd groot werkvermoë en selfvertroue besorg. 

As “Rachel” ’n vervalsing was, is dit ’n meesterlike vervalsing. As ’n mens die storie vandag herlees, val dit jou op hoe Marais dit deur ’n opstapeling van besonderhede geloofwaardig maak en na ’n feitelike relaas laat klink.

Dit is egter alles gissings. Al wat nou oor Rachel seker is, is dat die verhaal van Hazel Miner op 15 Januarie 1921 in The North Dakota Children’s Home Finder (NDCHF) verskyn het en Marais se storie in Die Boerevrou van April 1921.

Die NDCHF klink na ’n streekblad. Hoe het dit in Suid-Afrika beland? En wanneer? 

Tydskrifte is in 1921 nie per lugpos ingevoer nie, maar per skip. Waar sou Marais daaraan gekom het, en hoe het hy dit betyds gelees om Rachel daaruit te fantaseer? 

Olwagen/Kritzinger sal oortuigende getuienis moet bring dat Marais die storie in die Amerikaanse blad gesien het.

http://www.dieburger.com/By/Nuus/Was-Racheltjie-eintlik-n-Amerikaner-20121006

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Small warning: this has nothing to do with chess…caught you out!

Interesting read:[from 2009]

Staying at home may have given the very first termite youngsters the best opportunity to rule the colony when their parents were killed by their neighbors. This is according to new research supported by the National Science Foundation and published today in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Researchers say the incentive to remain home with siblings and inherit the parents’ estate could be the missing link to a question posed nearly 150 years ago by evolution theorist Charles Darwin. He wondered how natural selection could favor traits that reduce reproductive success among worker offspring in highly social insects.

This is especially curious because Darwin argued for small biological changes that result in greater chances of survival and successful reproduction over time. But social insects, ants, bees, wasps and termites colonies in particular can have over a million sterile and/or non-reproductive workers and soldiers, which seemed counterintuitive.

Research conducted by biologists at the University of Maryland, College Park shows that when two neighboring termite families meet within the same log, one or both families’ kings and queens are killed and a new, merged, cooperative colony results. Replacement “junior” kings and queens then develop from either or both colonies’ non-reproducing, worker offspring, and termites from the two families may even interbreed.

Pheromones produced by healthy kings and queens that normally suppress gonad development in worker or “helper” classes are absent or reduced when kings and queens are killed. As a result, suppression is lifted and nonrelated, “sterile,” helper offspring from both colonies are able to become new “reproductives” and assume the throne.

“Assassination of founding kings and queens may have driven young termite offspring to remain as non-reproducing workers in their birth colonies,” says lead researcher and University of Maryland professor Barbara L. Thorne. Rather than risking dangerous attempts at independent colony initiation outside the nest, remaining at home may have given these first termites a better opportunity to become reproducers by inheriting their parents’ throne. On the blue link you can view a video/audio clip about these termites.
http://www.nsf.gov/news/newsmedia/termites/
Click HERE for the original article.

Click THIS LINK to read: ‘The Sould of the White Ant’ – by Eugene Marais – online in PDF format. You can also read a biographical note written by his son on this link.

Quote from Amazon: He was well, well ahead of his time and this enthralling, charming text should be treated as a historical document, not as a definitive guide to the termite.[Just ordered my copy – 2nd copy] I have a close relative busy with a study on the American termite and so has my interest in this ‘bug’ -or is it a mini-beast – started to grow again.

From Wikipedia: Eugene Marais: His book “Die Siel van die Mier” (lit. “The soul of the ant” but usually given in English as the “Soul of the White Ant”) was plagiarized by Nobel laureate Maurice Maeterlinck, who published “The Life of the White Ant” in 1926, falsely claiming many of Marais’ revolutionary ideas as his own. Maeterlinck was able to do this because he was Belgian and, though his mother tongue was French, he was fluent in Dutch, from which Afrikaans was derived. It was common at the time for worthy articles published in Afrikaans to be reproduced in Flemish and Dutch magazines and journals.

Marais contemplated legal action against Maeterlinck but gave up the idea in the face of the costs and logistics involved. The social anthropologist Robert Ardrey said in his introduction to The Soul of the Ape, published in 1969, that “As a scientist he was unique, supreme in his time, yet a worker in a science unborn.” He also refers to Marais’ work at length in his book ‘ African Genesis.’ Source: Wikipedia

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Harrismith

This pic is from the BBC’s website, taken near Harrismith, South Africa

When I was at Primary School I had to know this poem. I’ve translated this poem as I’ve thought it’s just a brilliant poem to be shared and enjoyed by English readers too. Update 2011: I was lucky that this translation was chosen as part of a Reading Series in South Africa. I’ve just received my booklet from the publishers in South Afria. The series: Enchanted Stone Series – Wonderful Verses by F. Viljoen & L. Southey. The book is a Reader 3 Level 6-book.


This is my translation of the poem…”Dans van die reen”

Read my translation on this link too…

http://allpoetry.com/opoem/121576-Eugene-Marais-The-Dance-of-the-Rain

‘n Vriendelike versoek: Indien jy van my vertaling van die gedig hou, kan jy asseblief ook so gaaf en vriendelik wees en die Kopiereg-reel gehoorsaam en erkenning gee aan die vertaler van die gedig? Baie dankie, ek sal dit waardeer. Ek het die moeite aangegaan om die gedig te vertaal en dink darem dat dit net goeie maniere is om ook erkenning te gee waar nodig.

English readers: If you enjoy this translation of my poem and you would like to use it on your site – or somewhere else: It’s just good manners and being polite to acknowledge the person who translated the poem! There is the law of copyright and I think we should all obey it. Nikita is my nickname I use for the blog, my own Afrikaans poems and poems I translate. Thank you for your consideration.

The Dance of the Rain
Song of the violinist: Jan Konterdans
translated by:Nikita

The Dance of the Rain
Oh, the dance of our Sister!
First, over the hilltop she peeps stealthily
and her eyes are shy
and she laughs softly
From afar she begs with her one hand
her wrist-bands shimmering and her bead-work sparkling
softly she calls
She tells the wind about the dance
and she invites it, because the yard is spacious and the wedding large
The big game rush about the plains
they gather on the hilltop
their nostrils flared-up
and they swallow the wind
and they crouch to see her tracks in the sand
The small game, deep down under the floor, hear the rhythm of her feet
and they creep, come closer and sing softly
“Our Sister! Our Sister! You’ve come! You’ve come!”
and her bead-work shake,
and her copper wrist-bands shine in the disappearance of the sun
On her forehead, rests the eagle’s plume
She decends down from the hilltop
She spreads her ashened cloak with both arms
the breath of the wind disappears
Oh, the dance of our Sister!
©~~Christa (translator) pen name: Nikita
—————

DIE DANS VAN DIE REËN – Eugene Marais
Lied van die vioolspeler. Jan Konterdans.
Uit die Groot Woestyn

O die dans van ons Suster!
Eers oor die bergtop loer sy skelm,
en haar oge is skaam;
en sy lag saggies.
En van ver af wink sy met die een hand;
haar armbande blink en haar krale skitter;
saggies roep sy.
Sy vertel die winde van die dans
en sy nooi hulle uit, want die werf is wyd en die bruilof groot.
Die grootwild jaag uit die vlakte,
hulle dam op die bulttop,
wyd rek hulle die neusgate
en hulle sluk die wind;
en hulle buk, om haar fyn spore op die sand te sien.
Die kleinvolk diep onder die grond hoor die sleep van haar voete,
en hulle kruip nader en sing saggies:
“Ons Suster! Ons Suster! Jy het gekom! Jy het gekom!”
En haar krale skud,
en haar koperringe blink in die wegraak van die son.
Op haar voorkop is die vuurpluim van die berggier;
sy trap af van die hoogte;
sy sprei die vaalkaros met altwee arms uit;
die asem van die wind raak weg.
O, die dans van ons Suster!

[Uit: Versamelde gedigte – Eugene Marais]

On THIS LINK you can read more about him and read one of his books online…”The Soul of the White Ant”… a study of termites…

termite

Read HERE on BBC about the death of the rain queen in 2005. She was the sixth rain queen…Makobo Modjadji, the rain queen of the Balobedu people.  And… THIS is the “valley” of the rain queen.

rainqueen1

Rain Queen Modjaji

More about the Rain Queens on this link…..Please click HERE to read more and to see whereabouts the Rain Queen lives!

Visitors to the area always brought Modjadji gifts and tribute, including cattle and their daughters as wives, to appease her so that she would bring rain to their regions. The custom is allied to an emphasis on fertility of the land and the population. The name Lobedu is thought to derive from the practice, referring to the daughters or sisters who were lost to their families. The Rain Queen extends her influence through her wives, because they link her politically to other families or villages. Her status as marrying women does not appear to indicate lesbianism, but rather the queen’s unique ability to control others.
During the Mfecane, which took place in the early 19th century, Modjadji moved her tribe further south into the fertile Molototsi Valley, where they founded the present day Kingdom
p1270864.jpg
In South Africa they sell these little African dolls and I love them.I want to call this doll my little “rain queen.”
Read on THIS LINK about the Balobedu people.
Beautiful song! called the “Rain Dance”.- by Adiemus


This song’s title is also called…”Rain Dance”-by Michael Chapdelaine

 

6/3/2015 Found on Poem Hunter – my translation!

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Image…Wikipedia
Click HERE on this post to read my translation of his poem “Dans van die reën” in English…The link will open in a new window. “The Dance of the rain”…and you can read about this book on the link too.

Dance_in_rain_peerflydotcom

EUGÈNE Marais was a South African poet, a story-teller, a journalist, a lawyer, a psychologist, a natural scientist, a drug-addict, and a great genius — an abused and forgotten genius, and the world is the worse off for that.”
Read “Soul of the Ant” HERE online.

 

Eugene Marais was one of  South Africa’s more talented writers/poets. I love his poems although I haven’t read his books. I borrowed “The Soul of the Ant” one day – when I was at Primary – but I guess I was too young to read such a book, so I didn’t finish it and read only the first few pages. Some of his poems is about nature like the ‘Winter’s Night’ (translated in English here) and the “Dans van die reën” which is -translated: ‘Dance of the rain.‘ In this poem, he describes the animals’ reaction when the rain is on its way and he describes the rain and her ‘dance.‘ Marais is just brilliant in the way he played with words/metaphors etc. Sadly, he committed suicide in 1936.
Read
HERE on Wiki  more about him. The link will open in a new window.
On the bottom of this post you will find a link to a post on my blog – in English – about Eugene Marais…he was a naturalist, scientist, writer and poet. He made a study of  ants and you can see the book he wrote “The soul of the Ant” on that link…and his other book…”The soul of the Ape”
 

Author: Julee Dickerson Thompson
ISBN: 865432597
Binding: Paperback
Publisher: Africa World Press (March 1997)

The following translation of Marais’ “Winternag” is by J. W. Marchant:

“Winter’s Night”

O the small wind is frigid and spare
and bright in the dim light and bare
as wide as God’s merciful boon
the veld lies in starlight and gloom
and on the high lands
spread through burnt bands
the grass-seed, astir, is like beckoning hands.

O East-wind gives mournful measure to song
Like the lilt of a lovelorn lass who’s been wronged
In every grass fold
bright dewdrop takes hold
and promptly pales to frost in the cold!

Eguene N Marais
WINTERNAG
by Eugene Marais

O koud is die windjie
en skraal.
En blink in die dof-lig
en kaal,
so wyd as die Heer se genade,
le die velde in sterlig en skade
En hoog in die rande,
versprei in die brande,
is die grassaad aan roere
soos winkende hande.

O treurig die wysie
op die ooswind se maat,
soos die lied van ‘n meisie
in haar liefde verlaat.
In elk’ grashalm se vou
blink ‘n druppel van dou,
en vinnig verbleek dit
tot ryp in die kou!

DIE DANS VAN DIE REËN – Eugene Marais
Lied van die vioolspeler. Jan Konterdans.
Uit die Groot Woestyn
O die dans van ons Suster!
Eers oor die bergtop loer sy skelm,
en haar oge is skaam;
en sy lag saggies.
En van ver af wink sy met die een hand;
haar armbande blink en haar krale skitter;
saggies roep sy.
Sy vertel die winde van die dans
en sy nooi hulle uit, want die werf is wyd en die bruilof groot.
Die grootwild jaag uit die vlakte,
hulle dam op die bulttop,
wyd rek hulle die neusgate
en hulle sluk die wind;
en hulle buk, om haar fyn spore op die sand te sien.
Die kleinvolk diep onder die grond hoor die sleep van haar voete,
en hulle kruip nader en sing saggies:
“Ons Suster! Ons Suster! Jy het gekom! Jy het gekom!”
En haar krale skud,
en haar koperringe blink in die wegraak van die son.
Op haar voorkop is die vuurpluim van die berggier;
sy trap af van die hoogte;
sy sprei die vaalkaros met altwee arms uit;
die asem van die wind raak weg.
O, die dans van ons Suster!

[Uit: Versamelde gedigte – Eugene Marais]
Read on THIS LINK on my blog more about Eugene Marais…Article in English…The link will open in a new window.

dvdreen_laurinda

I don’t know Laurinda Hofmeyr’s music, but she’s got an album with the song…”Dans van die reen”. I hope one of my blogger-visitors from SA would be able to tell me more…

Snitte:
1. Lied van die bruidegom – Johan Myburg
2. 26 November 1975 – Breyten Breytenbach
3. Op reis na die Suide – Breyten breytenbach
4. Inbrand – Breyten Breytenbach
5. Die dans van die reën – Eugène N. Marais
6. Kind – Rabindranath Tagore
7. Ek sal sterf en na my vader gaan – Breyten Breytenbach
8. ‘n Halwe engel – Breyten Breytenbach
9. Last grave at Dimbaza – Fanie Olivier
10. Die reis – Breyten Breytenbach
11. Lied van die bruidegom (improvisasie)

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Today…15th October 2008…I’ve received this msg from Wayne Visser…(see his poem and site in this entry too….(poem about Africa)…and if you’re interested in his request…then please contact him…he’s looking for people writing poems..but about Africa!

Hello again I thought I’d let you (and your lekker vriende) know that I’ve launched a “Poets of Africa” blog – http://poetsofafrica.blogspot.com/.Just email me on wayne@waynevisser.com and I will give permission for you to post. www.waynevisser.com

 Afrikaanse digters welkom!    
Kwa heri Wayne”
Links will open in a new window.

Today…21st March 2008… is World Poetry Day! I do love poems, I love to read poems and I like to write my own too. On my blog at the top you will now find a page saying…”My poems…gedigte”…a few of my own poems…also you will find a couple of English poems which I’ve translated from Afrikaans…beautiful poems…one from a famous writer/poet/scientist/naturalist…Eugene Marais…”The Dance of the Rain..” take a look and enjoy! also one by Totius…his little daughter died after being struck by lightning..in his arms and he wrote a poem about her…very sad poem….or you can read it  HERE …the link will open in a new window.
You can also read “The Dance of the Rain” on  THIS LINK it’s a very powerful/beautiful poem…full of metaphors…and read about Eugene Marais and the Rain Queen…on that link. The link will open in a new window.

enjoy…the Dance of the Rain!..originally in Afrikaans…”Die Dans van die Reën” by Eugene Marais. If you click on the page saying…”My Poems/gedigte”…you will find more of Wayne Visser’s poems also one which he has asked me to translate…and some of my own poems too, also the poem of the girl that was struck by lightning is to be found on that page. – see the top of my blog for the page-link and I’ve translated Wordsworth’s poem (from English to Afrikaans)…I wandered like a lonely cloud…


Image:tploy.com

The Dance of the Rain
Song of the violinist: Jan Konterdans
translated by:Nikita

The Dance of the Rain
Oh, the dance of our Sister!
First, over the hilltop she peeps stealthily
and her eyes are shy
and she laughs softly
From afar she begs with her one hand
her wrist-bands shimmering and her bead-work sparkling
softly she calls
She tells the wind about the dance
and she invites it, because the yard is spacious and the wedding large
The big game rush about the plains
they gather on the hilltop
their nostrils flared-up
and they swallow the wind
and they crouch to see her tracks in the sand
The small game, deep down under the floor, hear the rhythm of her feet
and they creep, come closer and sing softly
“Our Sister! Our Sister! You’ve come! You’ve come!”
and her bead-work shake,
and her copper wrist-bands shine in the disappearance of the sun
On her forehead, rests the eagle’s plume
She decends down from the hilltop
She spreads her ashened cloak with both arms
the breath of the wind disappears
Oh, the dance of our Sister!
©~~ Nikita

This next poem was written in Afrikaans by Ingrid Jonker and adapted by e.e. cummings…many of her wonderful poems were translated in English and other languages. I love her poems!

 

 

Image:johnfenzel.typepad.com
Somewhere I have never travelled – Iewers het ek nooit gereis nie
Ingrid Jonker
…..adapted by e.e. cummings
+
somewhere I have never travelled,
gladly beyond any experience,
your eyes have their silence:
in your most frail gesture are things which enclose me,
or which I cannot touch because they are too near
~~~~~
iewers het ek nooit gereis nie daardie groen verte
verby alle herinneringe jou oë dra hul stilte
in jou geringste gebaar is daar iets wat my omsluit
of wat ek nie durf aanraak nie iets te ná
~~~~
your slightest look easily will unclose me
though I have closed myself as fingers,
you open always petal by petal myself
as Spring opens(touching skilfully, mysteriously) her first rose
~~~~
jou oë van landskappe sal my maklik blootlê
al het ek my hart gesluit soos twee hande
jy ontvou my keer op keer soos die lente
bedrewe en heimlik haar eerste roos
~~~~
or if your wish be to close me, I and
my life will shut very beautifully, suddenly,
as when the heart of this flower imagines
the snow carefully everywhere descending;
~~~~
en as jy my sou verlaat geslote dan
sou my voorhoof sluit mooi en onmiddelik
soos die hart van ‘n blom sou droom
van ‘n wit sneeu wat alles oral bedek
~~~~
nothing which we are to perceive in this world
equals the power of intense fragility: whose texture
compels me with the colour of its countries,
rendering death and forever with each breathing
~~~~
niks wat ons in hierdie wêreld kan versin
ewenaar die krag van jou broosheid die tekstuur
van jou oë tref my die groen van sy veld
een bevestig die ewige en die vir altyd met elke sug
~~~~
(I do not know what it is about you that closes and opens;
only something in me understands
the voice of your eyes is deeper than all roses)
nobody, not even the rain, has such small hands
~~~~
ek weet nie wat dit is wat jou laat vou
en ontvou nie ek verstaan net êrens op my reise
die stem van jou oë is dieper as alle rose
nee nie eens die reën nie het sulke hande
On THIS LINK you can read more about Ingrid…a link to Wikipedia…there’s a Youtube-song to watch…Afrikaans song…one of Ingrid’s poems…and there’s another song to listen to! The link will open in a new window.
and….on
THIS LINK you can read more about e e cummings…the link will open in a new window.
If you’re a teacher THIS SITE is really a great site to use for poetry/literacy…try it- the link will open in a new window.

image:worldgolf.com/images/destinations/africa/southafrica.jpg
This next poem is written by Wayne Visser…you can read about him on THIS LINK …the link will open in a new window.

I know a place in Africa…
Inspiring poetry written by Wayne Visser,
a South African currently based in Nottingham, UK.
I know a place in Africa
Where I can feel the sun on my back
And the sand between my barefoot toes
Where I can hear the gulls on the breeze
And the waves crash on the endless shore

I know a place in Africa
Where the mountains touch the skies of blue
And the valleys shelter vines of green
Where the trees spread out a cloth of mauve
And the bushveld wears a coat of beige

I know a place in Africa
Where I can hear the voice of thunder gods
And watch their lightening spears thrown to earth
Where I can breathe the scent of rain clouds
And taste the sweet dew of dusty drops

This is the place of wildness
Of evolution and dinosaurs
Where life began and mankind first stood
Of living fossils and elephants
Where lions roar and springbok herds leap

This is the place of struggle
Of desert plains and thorn trees
Where pathways end and hunters track game
Of horizons and frontiers
Where journeys start and sunsets bleed red

This is the place of freedom
Of exploration and pioneers
Where darkness loomed and light saw us through
Of living legends and miracles
Where daybreak came and hope now shines bright

My heart is at home in Africa
Where the sound of drums beat in my chest
And the songs of time ring in my ears
Where the rainbow mist glows in my eyes
And the smiles of friends make me welcome

My mind is at ease in Africa
Where the people still live close to the soil
And the seasons mark my changing moods
Where the markets hustle with trading
And Creation keeps its own slow time

My soul is at peace in Africa
For her streams bring lifeblood to my veins
And her winds bring healing to my dreams
For when the tale of this land is told
Her destiny and mine are as one

© 2006 Wayne Visser

Enjoy this next poem by Edgar..Poe!

Annabel Lee

It was many and many a year ago,
In a kingdom by the sea,
That a maiden there lived whom you may know
By the name of ANNABEL LEE;
And this maiden she lived with no other thought
Than to love and be loved by me.

I was a child and she was a child,
In this kingdom by the sea;
But we loved with a love that was more than love-
I and my Annabel Lee;
With a love that the winged seraphs of heaven
Coveted her and me.

And this was the reason that, long ago,
In this kingdom by the sea,
A wind blew out of a cloud, chilling
My beautiful Annabel Lee;
So that her highborn kinsman came
And bore her away from me,
To shut her up in a sepulchre
In this kingdom by the sea.

The angels, not half so happy in heaven,
Went envying her and me-
Yes!- that was the reason (as all men know,
In this kingdom by the sea)
That the wind came out of the cloud by night,
Chilling and killing my Annabel Lee.

But our love it was stronger by far than the love
Of those who were older than we-
Of many far wiser than we-
And neither the angels in heaven above,
Nor the demons down under the sea,
Can ever dissever my soul from the soul
Of the beautiful Annabel Lee.

For the moon never beams without bringing me dreams
Of the beautiful Annabel Lee;
And the stars never rise but I feel the bright eyes
Of the beautiful Annabel Lee;
And so, all the night-tide, I lie down by the side
Of my darling- my darling- my life and my bride,
In the sepulchre there by the sea,
In her tomb by the sounding sea.

Edgar Allan Poe


Image…http://project1.caryacademy.org
 

The next poem…by Ingrid Jonker…
The Child
The child is not dead
The child lifts his fists against his mother
Who shouts Africa ! shouts the breath
Of freedom and the veld
In the locations of the cordoned heart
~~~
The child lifts his fists against his father
in the march of the generations
who shouts Africa ! shout the breath
of righteousness and blood
in the streets of his embattled pride
~~~
The child is not dead not at Langa
nor at Nyanga not at Orlando
nor at Sharpeville
nor at the police station at Philippi
where he lies with a bullet through his brain
~~~
The child is the dark shadow of the soldiers
on guard with rifles Saracens and batons
the child is present at all assemblies and law-givings
the child peers through the windows of houses and into the hearts of mothers
this child who just wanted to play in the sun at Nyanga is everywhere
the child grown to a man treks through all Africa
the child grown into a giant journeys through the whole world
Without a pass

 

Ingrid Jonker March 1960
(Translation of: “Die Kind” ) Poems now owned by Simone Jonker…daughter of Ingrid

On THIS LINK you can see podcast-videos of her poems in both Afrikaans/English…worth visiting! The link will open in a new window.


Image: http://farm1.static.flickr.com

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His book translated into Flemish here.

Read ON THIS LINK about Marais.Have you read….”The soul of the white Ant”…or…”Die siel van die Mier!” by Eugene Marais… if not….you have a gap in your culture…:))….get “The soul of the white ant..” and read it…

And……on THIS LINK you can read his poem…”Dans van die reen”…which I translated into English for my blogreaders….”Dance of the rain”…enjoy!

 

Where is the soul of a termite, or the soul of man?
“Someone once said that all behaviourism in nature could be referred to as hunger. This saying has been repeated thousands of times yet is false. Hunger itself is pain – the most severe pain in its later stages that the body knows except thirst, which is even worse. Love may be regarded as a hunger, but it is not pain.
“What protects animals, what enables them to continue living, what assures the propagation of race? A certain attribute of organic matter. As soon as one finds life, one finds this attribute. It is inherent in life; like most natural phenomena it is polarised, there is a negative and a positive pole. The negative pole is pain; the positive pole is sex. This attribute may be called the saving attribute of life; and it is here where one comes closest to what appears like a common purpose beyond nature.” (Eugène Marais, The Soul of the White Ant, 1989:261)

Eugène Nielen Marais[1] (1871-1936) was a South African lawyer, naturalist, poet, and writer. Although Marais is remembered by South Africans more for his contribution to Afrikaans literature than for science, he has been described as being a scientist far ahead of his time.

He began life after leaving college as a journalist, then studied medicine for four years, but eventually took up law and was called to the bar by the Inner Temple. He was a scholar and a man of culture.

However, it was not only as jurist that Marais distinguished himself as a brilliant (yet eccentric) character in South African history. He has been described as “… a human community in one man. He was a poet, an advocate, a journalist, a story-teller, a drug-addict, a psychologist, a natural scientist.”

In 1910, he abandoned his law practice and retreated to the remote Waterberg (‘Water Mountain) – the mountain area north-west of Pretoria. Here he studied two creatures – termites and baboons that, on the face of it, had nothing in common. Both fascinated him, as did all wild creatures.

Settling near a large group of chacma baboons, he became the first man to conduct a prolonged study of primates in the wild. It was in this period that he produced My Friends the Baboons and provided the major inspiration for The Soul of the Ape.

His studies of termites led him to the conclusion that the colony should be considered as a single organism. Although Marais could not have known it, he was anticipating some of the ideas of Richard Dawkins (1941— ). He also observed chacma baboons at length and he was the father of the scientific study of the behaviour of primates. Because Marais refused to translate his works into English, they remained almost unknown outside of southern Africa, which is the only place in the world where Afrikaans is spoken to any degree.

Termites are social insects and are most closely related to the cockroaches with which they share a close common ancestor (?). They are among the most important groups of animals on land because they play a vital role in breaking down dead plant material. They have symbiotic flagellates or bacteria in their hindguts that are able to break down plant cellulose to a digestible form and in the subfamily Macrotermitinae the termites culture and eat fungi in their nests using dead plant material.

Ants (order: Hymenoptera; family: Formicidae) are often confused with termites because they are also social, and termites are sometimes called ‘white ants’ (a confusing term). Ants, like wasps (from which they evolved (?)), have a constriction half way down their body whereas in termites the body is uniformly broad. The prominent mounds you see in the South African countryside are made by termites not ants. Whereas ant workers are all females, in termites, workers can be both male and female. In ants, mating occurs before the nest is founded and the male dies after mating – he does not become a king, and live and mate with the queen in the new colony, as in termites.

Marais published his conclusions about termites as a series of speculative articles, written entirely in Afrikaans and appearing only in local newspapers, as The Soul of the White Ant. While observing the natural behaviour of these creatures, he noticed that firstly, the whole termitary (a termite nest) had to be considered as a single organism whose organs work like those of a human being.

Termitaries, as one sees them so frequently in Central and Southern Africa, are tall, compacted columns of earth sometimes four to five metres high. Within the terminary lives the society, with its castes and its ranks, in countless numbers.

Marais concluded that all members of the colony and the terminary itself form what is essentially a single living organism. The terminary itself is the body. The various castes in the society have the functions of the body’s organs, with fungus gardens contributing the digestive tract, soldiers and workers the cells of the blood stream, the queen the brain as well as the reproductive organs, and even the sexual flight executing the function of sperm and eggs. How all communicate (pheromones, telepathy?) we do not know, but the ‘soul’ of the termite – the psyche, we should say – is the property of the entire society. He concluded secondly that the actions within the termitary were completely, instinctive.

His work on termites led him to a series of stunning discoveries. He developed a fresh and radically different view of how a termite colony works, and indeed, of what a termite colony is. This was far in advance of any contemporary work. In 1923, he began writing a series of popular articles on termites for the Afrikaans press and in 1925; he published a major article summing up his work in the Afrikaans magazine Die Huisgenoot.

He published The Soul of the White Ant (1937) and then My Friends the Baboons (1939) which was posthumously published after he had taken his life.

His book Die Siel van die Mier (The Soul of the Ant, but usually given in English as The Soul of the White Ant) was plagiarised by Nobel Laureate Maurice Maeterlinck, who published The Life of the White Ant in 1926, falsely claiming many of Marais’ revolutionary ideas as his own. Maeterlinck was able to do this because he was Flemish and therefore understood Dutch, from which Afrikaans was derived. Maeterlinck was as a consequence one of the few people in Europe who had read Marais’ original texts.

Maurice Maeterlinck (1862-1949) was a leading literary figure of the time. In 1911, he won the Nobel Prize for literature following the success of his play The Bluebird. In 1901, he had written The Life of the Bee, a mixture of natural history and philosophy, but he was a dramatist and a poet, not a scientist.

In 1926, one year after Die Huisgenoot published Marais’ article, Maeterlinck stole Marais’ work and published it under his own name, without acknowledgement, in a book titled The Life of the White Ant, first published in French and soon afterwards in English and several other languages.

Maeterlinck’s book was met with outrage in South Africa. Later, in 1935, Marais wrote to Dr Winifred de Kok in London. She was beginning her English translation of The Soul of the White Ant, “You must understand that it was a theory which was not only new to science but which no man born of woman could have arrived at without a knowledge of all the facts on which it was based; and these Maeterlinck quite obviously did not possess. He even committed the faux pas of taking certain Latin scientific words invented by me to be current and generally accepted Latin terms.

“The publishers in South Africa started crying to high heaven and endeavoured to induce me to take legal action in Europe, a step for which I possessed neither the means nor inclination. The press in South Africa, however, quite valorously waved the cudgels in my behalf. The Johannesburg Star [South Africa’s biggest English-speaking daily newspaper] published plagiarised portions that left nothing to the imagination of readers.

“The Afrikaans publishers of the original articles communicated the facts to one of our ambassadorial representatives in Europe and suggested that Maeterlinck be approached. Whether or not this was done, I never ascertained. In any case, Maeterlinck, like other great ones on Olympus, maintained a mighty and dignified silence.”

Marais took legal action against Maeterlinck but gained little satisfaction.

Marais began writing Soul of the Ape in 1916, but never finished it. It was published posthumously years later. His theory was that, unlike termites, baboons – and by extension all primates – had the ability to memorise the relationship between cause and effect. They could therefore vary their behaviour voluntarily. While termites were instinctive, the mind of baboons was based on ‘causal memory’.

The reason for this difference, according to Marais, was natural selection. According to him, natural selection was not, as Darwin had insisted, ‘the survival of the fittest’, but rather ‘the line of least resistance’. Those species best able to adapt to their specific environment survived, while those not able to, would become extinct. Natural selection, therefore, had the tendency to both localise and specialise species.

The conclusions to which he came were new and radical and might well have had an influence in Europe. However, Marais was half a hemisphere away, half a century too soon and writing in a language no one could understand.

The Soul of the White Ant was brought under the attention of the world only by being seemingly plagiarised by a Belgian Nobel prize laureate, Maurice Maeterlinck. The Soul of the Ape was incomplete and originally only published in South Africa.

Maeterlinck’s The Life of the White Ant, in which he describes the organic unity of the termitary and compares it with the human body. This theory aroused great interest at the time and was generally accepted as an original one formulated by Maeterlinck. The fact that an unknown South African observer had developed the theory after many years of indefatigable labour was not generally known in Europe.

The 1927 files at The Star to which Marais referred were checked and confirmed by American author and social anthropologist Robert Ardrey (1908-1980) forty years later. “Maeterlinck’s guilt is clear”, Ardrey wrote. It is easily confirmed by a comparison of the two books. Marais’ point is indisputable: his picture of the termitary is startlingly original, it could not possibly have been hypothesised or inferred without a great deal of original research, at the very least – and yet there it is in Maeterlinck’s book.

Yet it is impossible to ignore the fact that Marais’ work is revolutionary, especially if one takes into account the time and place in which it was written. Robert Ardrey says in his introduction to Marais’ work on ants and baboons published in 1973, “As a scientist he was unique, supreme in his time, yet a worker in a science unborn.”

He was master of a science that was only invented fifty years later (ethology). It was sixty years before anyone else attempted to study what he had studied (ape societies in the wild). He described natural mechanisms and systems that were not identified by mainstream science until forty years later (pheromones), and neither science nor society has yet caught up with many of his findings and conclusions. Marais made no direct contribution to entomology, but his ghost continues to haunt the discipline.

His fourth book, The Soul of the Ape, completed in 1919, might just have made him world famous if it had been published then, but in fact half a century was to pass before it appeared in book form in 1969, thirty-three years after his death.

Their observations and the insights Marais gained from them formed the basis of a serious work later to be called The Soul of the Ape.

They also led to a more popular work, Burgers van die Berge (Citizens of the Mountains, translated as My Friends the Baboons), first published in book form in 1938, two years after Marais’ death.

In 1948, twelve years after Marais’ death, Nikolaas Tinbergen[2] (1907-1988) reformulated Marais’ extremely important concept of the phyletic (inborn) and causal (acquired) memory.

Thirteen years later, in 1961, Washburn and De Vore[3] published a lengthy article, ‘The Social Life of Baboons’, in the Scientific American. Though some of their observations were contested, they were seen as the first serious observers of baboons in the wild (meaning not in captivity), a title which surely Marais had earned fifty years before. His notes on baboon behaviour in The Soul of the Ape are regarded as honest and reliable by modern ethologists.

When The Soul of the Ape was finally published in 1969, it was too late.

Read the rest of the article….HERE on Authorsden. The link will open in a new window.

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