''De la Rey - no cause for alarm'' says Sandra Swart

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City Press asked Dr Sandra Swart and Prof Albert Grundling the following question:
"Should there be a cause for alarm by these kind of developments, ie could this kind of music prove to be the catalyst for the revitalisation of the far right that still reminisces about their perceived loss of power or longing for the good old days or is just an innocent song with a catchy tune?"
This answer was received from Dr Swart after her discussions with Prof Grundling:
"There should be no cause for alarm! A song could get a couple of guys excited around the braai, it can stir up the student revolutionaries in Les Miserables, it can make you remember your army days or your matric dance, but it can’t actually start social rebellion. No song is that convincing ideologically … and no one is that susceptible.
"Besides, this song is actually no rousing call-to-arms, but rather a moving nostalgic (mis)remembering. The leader stays mythical. There is no sinister intent in the choice of leader. He is simply a hero that is 'legitimate' in today’s politically correct terms, he’s a gallant loser, a chivalric 'victim' with a dashing beard and a dream. His invocation lets young Afrikaners talk about history without always being the Bad Guys.
"Moreover, De la Rey’s name is lyrical, almost onomatopoeic. In the final analysis, 'De la Rey' was probably chosen because it rhymes with 'lei'!
"However, no song is innocent of its social context. Actually, one should perhaps look at van Blerk’s other songs. They probably reflect with greater verisimilitude the lived experience of working-class Afrikaner men, rather than this romantic ode. 'Girls in bikinis', 'Op Walvisbaai' and 'Vodka en OJ' capture the lived experience of young working-class Afrikaner men. Van Blerk has also written a flattering song on rugby and specifically on the 'coloured' wing, Bryan Habana – hardly the work of a Boeremag songwriter!
"Clearly a song takes on a life of its own after it is released by the songwriter. Think of Bruce Springsteen’s 'Born in the USA', for example, that was hijacked by Reagan, even though nobody sang more furiously than Springsteen about the working-class victims of Reaganonomics. So whatever Bok originally intended is not as interesting as the use to which culture brokers and politicos might put it.
"That said, however, I’ve not seen convincing evidence that the right wing is successfully mobilising people behind this song. Mind you, we haven’t seen any evidence of the right wing successfully mobilising at all."
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