Origins of the songThe origins of the song are unclear. One account of the story refers to the United States, American folk song Ellie Rhee, written in 1865 by Septimus Winner (1827–1902) and included in a book entitled "The Cavendish Song Album". An account on the National Anthems forum supports J.P. Toerien as author and his wife Sarie Maré as the subject of the song. It too suggests the song's origins go back to ''Sweet Ellie Rhee''. The claim is that this song was sung by Americans working in the Transvaal gold mines, and heard there by Afrikaans journalist and poet Jacobus Petrus Toerien, who re-wrote the song in Afrikaans, substituting the name of Ellie Rhee with that of his own beloved Sarie Maré (Susara Margaretha Maré). Another account is that the song dates from the First Anglo-Boer War (1880–1881). When Ella de Wet, wife of Louis Botha, General Louis Botha's military attaché Nicolaas Jacobus de Wet came to the battle front to see her husband she often played on the piano while the nearby burghers sang songs from the Cavendish album. The burghers supposedly wanted to honour their field chaplain Dominee Paul Nel, who often told stories around the campfires about his childhood and his beautiful mother ''Sarie Maré'', who died young. Whatever its origins, the song changed and got more verses as time went on. This accounts for the reference to the ''Kakies'' (:af:Kakie, af) (or khakis), as the Boers called the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland, British soldiers during the . They were known as ''Rooibaadjies'' ("red coats") during the First Anglo-Boer War.
Later spread and influence of the songThe song quickly spread due to soldiers coming back from the South African Boer War. The melody was adopted in 1953 as the official march of the United Kingdom's 3 Commando Brigade, Commandos and is played after the Regimental March on ceremonial occasions. The French École militaire interarmes also sings the song, in its French translation. The song has been sung by Jim Reeves and Kenneth McKellar in Afrikaans. Sarie, Volksblad's sister magazine, was also named for her. Many hotels and apartment complexes are named after her. During the first international broadcast between South Africa, Britain, and America during the birthday of Mrs. Isie Smuts, the wife of the prime minister, general Jan Smuts, Sarie Marais was sung by Gracie Fields. During the second world war, there was a unit of soldiers called "Sarie Marais calling". The South African army, as well as the French foreign legion, play this march during parades. It is also the official song of the Girl Guides of Sri Lanka ( Ceylon ) who heard the ''Boerekrygsgevangenes'' (:af:Boerekrygsgevangenes, af – Boer prisoner of war) perform it during the beginning of the last century. During the 1930s it was incorrectly played as South Africa's official national anthem. Germans cultivated a pink rose called Sarie Maries which is planted in the School of Armour in Tempe, Bloemfontein.
''Sarie Marais'' (1931): the first South African film with sound''Sarie Marais'' was also the title of the first South African talking picture, directed by Joseph Albrecht (:af:Joseph Albrecht, af) and made in 1931. Filmed in Johannesburg, ''Sarie Marais'' manages to pack a lot into its 10-minute running time. Set in a United Kingdom, British POW camp, the film concentrates on a group of Boer prisoners as they pass the time under the watchful eye of their United Kingdom, British captors. One of the internees, played by Billy Mathews, lifts his voice in song with the popular Afrikaans patriotic tune "My Sarie Marais". His enthusiasm catches on with the other prisoners, giving them hope for the future. Afrikaner nationalism was emerging as a force in these years, and ''Sarie Marais'' portrayed the United Kingdom, British cultural and economic imperialism hostilely, with the desire to spread the English language, culture and influence even where it was unwelcome. Shortly after this film's release, a group of Afrikaner nationalists established a film production organisation called the ''Reddingsdaad-Bond-Amateur-Rolprent Organisasie'' (Rescue Action League Amateur Film Organisation), which rallied against United Kingdom, British and United States, American films pervading the country. Francis Coley directed a remake of this film, again titled ''Sarie Marais'' in 1949 (:af:Sarie Marais (1949), af).
''Sarie'' women's magazineThe contemporary Afrikaans women's magazine ''Sarie'' takes its name from this song. Originally entitled ''Sarie Marais'' – a name which at the time (1949) of its first publication was synonymous with the idea of empowered Afrikaans womanhood – it was the first Afrikaans magazine to focus on the female market, with a content ranging from fashion, decor, and beauty to relationship advice and family planning.
The actual Sarie MaraisIt is not clear if Sarie Marais was a real person or fictitious. Two persons have been mentioned as being the real Sarie Marais: Sarie Maré (full name Sara Johanna Adriana Maré) (1840–1877) and Sarie Maré (full name Susara Margaretha Maré) (1869–1939).
Sara Johanna Adriana MaréSara Johanna Adriana Maré was born in Uitenhage, Cape Province on 10 May 1840. She married Louis Jacobus Nel in 1857 in Pietermaritzburg. Maré died at the age of 37 after giving birth to her 11th child, and was buried near the old homestead on their farm ''Welgegund'', near Greytown, KwaZulu-Natal. As noted above, one of her sons was field chaplain Dominee Paul Nel, who served in the First Anglo-Boer War and supposedly often told stories around the campfires about his childhood and his beautiful mother ''Sarie Maré'', who died young.
Susara Margaretha MaréSusara Margaretha Maré (1869–1939), eldest daughter of Jacob Philippus Maré and Cornelia Susanna Jacoba Erasmus, was born on 15 April 1869 at Eendraght (an archaic spelling of "Unity") Farm, in Suikerbosrand, South African Republic, Transvaal. In later life she was also nicknamed Tant Mossie (auntie Mossie). Her parents were Voortrekkers who established themselves in the Suikerbosrand area. Her father Jacob Maré became highly regarded in the South African Republic, Transvaal, and a street in Pretoria is named for him. At the time when Susara Margaretha's parents settled in the area, the town of Heidelberg, Gauteng, Heidelberg still did not exist. The greatest concentration of voortrekkers could be found near the Mooirivier, where Potchefstroom stands today. Suikerbosrand was at that time in the Mooi River (Vaal), Mooirivier Ward. When she was 16 years old, she met Jacobus Petrus Toerien – journalist (and later a well-known poet) who wrote under the pseudonym of ''Jepete'' in "Ons Kleintje" and was editor of "Di Patriot". As a representative of the Patriots of Paarl, he was in Pretoria to conduct a meeting with her father. They were married and had sixteen children, of whom only eight survived. One common version of the song's origin attributes its authorship to Toerien, who heard the song Sweet Ellie Rhee from American workers in the Transvaal gold mines. In the time between the First Boer War, First War of Independence and the Second Boer War, second one – as the wars with the British were considered – Toerien re-wrote the song in Afrikaans, substituting for the name of Ellie Rhee that of his own beloved wife Sarie Maré. The words still did not exactly match the ones we know today. Maré later became Marais due to a misspelling. In 1899 Sarie was hit by a bullet. She was not hit by the English soldiers, but by others. Sarie was a very religious woman, and in later years tried her best to disassociate herself with the song. When Jacobus died in 1920, she moved her daughters to Bloemfontein where she lived the rest of her life. She died there on 22 December 1939, at the age of 73. She is buried in an unmarked grave in the Memoriam-begraafplaas (memorium burying place) by the Vrouemonument (woman's monument)
"Sweet Ellie Rhee" lyricsThe United States, American folk song, "Ellie Rhee", (or "Carry me back to Tennessee" written in 1865 by Septimus Winner (1827–1902), is widely considered to have influenced the South African song. Sweet Ellie Rhee, so dear to me
Afrikaans lyricsOriginally in the Afrikaans version it was ''Sarie Maré'' which then became ''Marais''.
Original Dutch version (ca 1880)Dutch:
Another version in AfrikaansAfrikaans:
Modern Afrikaans versionAfrikaans:
TranslationsThe song ''Sarie Marais'' has been translated into many languages including English language, English, French language, French, Spanish language, Spanish (by the Afrikaners who emigrated to Patagonia in 1903), Italian language, Italian and Russian language, Russian.
Literal English translationMy Sarie Marais is so far from my heart
Poetic English lyrics by Josef Marais (1939)My Sarie Marais is so far from my heart