Sunday, July 14, 2013

Die Boere Oorlog

Ek het so pas "Commando" van Deneys Reitz klaar gelees, en wat 'n briljante boek! Ek het sommer trots gevoel op ons Afrikaanse mans wie so dapper geveg het. Natuurlik was daar baie wie moed opgegee het en dan ook die wie die vyand "gejoin" het teen die einde van die oorlog, en selfs daarvoor kan mens verstaan dat mense dit sou doen onder die haaglike omstandighede wat hulle in verkeer het, dink ek baie van ons ou ook gevou het.
Ek weet nie of ons ons regtig oor die Boere Oorlog geleer het op skool, en of ek teen daardie tyd net nie meer regtig belang gestel het nie, maar ek weet my pa was altyd nog baie geintereseerd daarin. Hy was mal oor Jan Smuts. Hy het definitef vir ons baie staaltjies vertel oor die oorlog, en natuurlik grappies.

In die onlangse Afrikaanse fliek, "Verraaiers" sien mens bietjie van Jan Smuts en ook van Genl de la Rey. Dit was darem maar REGTE MANS gewees daai. Hulle het ongelooflike goed verrig in die oorlog deur hulle kennis van die veld en hulle slim manier van oorlog voer en hulle dapperheid en uithou vermoë.

Ek wil graag so paar uittreksels hier deel uit die boek - ek hoop julle geniet dit soos wat ek dit geniet het!

"Commando - A Boer Journal of the Boer War, - Deneys Reitz"

We lived in the Orange Free State. My father was Chief Justice in Sir John Brand's time and subsequently, in 1887, was himself elected President of the Republic.
Our home was at Bloemfontein, the State Capital, and here my brothers and I grew up. There were five of us, two older and two younger than myself, and we led a pleasant Tom-Sawyerlike existence such as falls to the lot of few boys nowadays. We learned to ride, shoot and swim almost as soon as we could walk, and there was a string of hardy Basuto ponies in the stables, on which we were often away for weeks at a time, riding over the game-covered plains by day and sleeping under the stars at night, hunting and fishing and camping to our heart's content, and clattering home again when we had our fill.

Hy vertel ook bietjie van die verskillende belangrike figure wat hy leer ken het, Paul Kruger, Jan Smuts en dan ook Genl Piet Joubert -

I also knew Piet Joubert, the Commandant-General, for, apart from his visits to Bloemfontein, his son Jan and I were friends, and I sometimes went home with him to talk about the coming war, and his father was generally there. He was a kindly, well-meaning old man who had done usefull service in the smaller campaigns of the past, but he gave me the impression of being bewildered at the heavy responsibilty now resting upon him and I felt that he was unequal to the burden.
One afternoon he showed me a cable which he had received from a Russian society offering to equip an ambulance in case of war, and when I expressed my pleasure I was astonished to hear him say that he had refused the gift. He said, 'You see, my boy, we Boers don't hold with these new-fangled ideas; our herbal remedies (bossie-middels) are good enough.'

Sy boek lees soos 'n avontuur-verhaal, en ek kon omtrent dit nie neersit nie. Hier vertel hy van die Boere wie hy tëegekom het op die veld -

My companions were big heavily-bearded men of the old school, who looked on me as something of an alien, for I was town-bred, and they did not always understand my ways, but they were simple kindly souls and we got on well together. The Boers had their full share of laggards, but they had a full share, too, of steadfast men such as these; men whose farms were lying in ruins, whose wives and families were scattered they knew not where, but who, unpaid and unbidden, returned to risk their lives in the fighting that swayed continually backward and forward over the western plains, and I got a truer insight into the fine courage and high qualities of their fighting-men during this journey than at any other time of the war.

Hy skryf natuurlik ook heelwat oor Genl de la Rey en siener van Rensburg -
Generaal de la Rey

Siener van Rensburg

I saw a good deal of him (de la Rey) at this time, as he held a daily levee beside his cart, where all were free to hear his views.
Attached to his person was a prophet, van Rensburg, a strange character, with long flowing beard and wild fanatical eyes, who dreamed dreams, and pretended to be possessed of occult powers. I personally witnessed one of his lucky hits to which he owed his reputation, for one morning while we were congregated around the General's cart, van Rensburg was expounding his latest vision to a hushed audience. It ran of a black bull and a red bull fighting and goring each other, until at length the red bull sank defeated to its knees, which he interpreted to mean that the British would soon be in like case. As he stood before us, his arms outstretched and his eyes ablaze, he suddenly called out, 'See, who comes', and, looking up, we made out a distant horseman spurring towards us from the east. We waited in silence for the rider. When he came up, travel-stained and weary, he produced a letter from General Botha, hundreds of miles away.
When General de la Rey opened and read it, his face lighted up and in a voice ringing with emotion he said: 'Men, believe me, the proud enemy is humbled.' (Die trotse vijand se nek is gebuig). He went on to tell us that the letter contained news that the English had proposed a peace conference. Coming immediately upon the prophecy it was a dramatic moment and I was impressed, even although I suspected that van Rensburg had stagemanaged the scene. Of General de la Rey's sincerity there could be no doubt, for he was not a man to stoop to subterfuge, and I know that he firmly believed in the seer's predictions.

Later vertel hy ook hierdie snaakse deel:

We fell back until two in the afternoon, when the English gave up the chase and we were able to come to a halt in a bush-covered hollow, where General de la Rey adressed us in his half-humorous, half-serious manner, and soon he had the men laughing and making light of their misfortunes.
We rested our horses here until dark, and then rode west for several hours, as there was word of further columns converging upon us.
There had been a magnificent double-tailed meteor in the sky of late, the two streamers of which looked like the letter "V", and Van Rensbuirg, the General's prophet, had been giving out that this stood for "Vrede" (peace), but on this night as we rode along, I heard a boyish voice from the darkness ahead call out, 'Mijnheer van Rensburg, that letter V up there does not mean Vrede, it means Vlug (retreat). There was a wry laughter in the ranks at this sally, which the discomfited oracle bore in meek silence, although it did not diminish his output of prophecies, which continued right up to the peace.

Dit was vir my baie interessant om te lees hoe vindingryk die Boere was toe hulle ammunisie klaar begin raak het -

We were getting short of ammunition, so during the next two days we followed the road by which the English force had travelled, to pick up Lee-Metford catridges. The English soldiers were notoriously careless with their ammunition. If a round or two dropped from ther bandoliers they would never trouble to dismount, as they knew they could get more, and at their halting-places one could almost always find cartridges lying spilt in the grass. So much was this the case that latterly it had become a regular practice to trail the columns, sometimes fro a week on end, to glean these crumbs from the rich man's table, and I doubt if the British ever realized to what an extent the Boers were dependent upon this source of replenishment.

Nouja, dis al vir nou - ek is tans besig om bietjie humor ook te probeer naslaan uit die oorlog uit, en het die oulikste boek gekry by ons biblioteek - "Kwinkslag".

Ek sal julle nog alles daarvan ook vertel!

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