Cape Town Stories, by Madeleine Barnard

Cape Town Stories, by Madeleine Barnard. ISBN 9781868729401 / ISBN 978-1-86872-940-1

Cape Town Stories, by Madeleine Barnard. ISBN 9781868729401 / ISBN 978-1-86872-940-1

In her Cape Town Stories, Madeleine Barnard offers a combination of historical and latter-day stories and interviews about people and places of Cape Town.

Madeleine Barnard  

The Story of a Famous Cape Song: Daar kom die Alibama

Just as 'New York, New York' will always remind you of the Big Apple, and 'I Love Paris' will transport you straight to the City of Light, Cape Town also boasts its very own song. It may be slightly more obscure in its connection to the Mother City than the other two are to their cities, but whenever people hear 'Daar Kom die Alibama', they most definitely think of Cape Town. This would seem strange, given the fact that the song is rumoured to be about one of two seafaring vessels: a Confederate raider that wreaked havoc with Northern mercantile ships on the oceans during the American Civil War, or a small schooner that collected reeds for Malay bride beds. It goes as follows:

Daar kom die Alibama, die Alibama die kom oor die see
Daar kom die Alibama, die Alibama die kom oor die see

Nooi, nooi, die rietkooi-nooi, die rietkooi is gemaak
Die rietkooi is vir my gemaak, om daarop te slaap
Nooi, nooi, die rietkooi-nooi, die rietkooi is gemaak
Die rietkooi is vir my gemaak, daar onder in die Kaap

January, February, March, April, May, June, July
January, February, March, April, May, June, July
August, September, October, November, December
August, September, October, November, December

The song is associated most with 'Tweede Nuwejaar' (Second New Year). On 2 January every year, Cape minstrel troupes - dressed up in bright, multicoloured satin suits a la Al Jolson, their faces painted white and sporting quirky boater hats - take to the streets of Cape Town to celebrate the only day of the year that the Cape slaves had free, the day after New Year. And their signature tune? 'Daar Kom die Alibama'. On a clear day in August 1863, Cape Town went berserk. People were running up Kloof Road and Lion's Head. Getting hold of a taxicab was nigh impossible, for there was some serious action out in the bay. The Confederate raider C.S.S. Alabama, built expressly for the purpose of destroying the mercantile shipping power of the Union's fleet, was ominously circling the Sea Bride, intent on capturing her cargo. One can imagine the excitement pulsing through the city, the hurried exchanges of information on street corners, and the growing crowds on Lion's Head, on the slopes of Table Mountain and in the harbour. The Cape Argus of 6 August gave a very dramatic description of the action: 'She first sailed round the Yankee from stem to stern, and from stern to stem again. The way the fine, saucy, rakish craft was handled was worth riding a hundred miles to see. She went around the barque like a toy, making a complete circle, and leaving an even margin of water between herself and her prize, of not more than twenty yards. From the hill it appeared as if there was no water at all between the two vessels. This done, she sent a boat with a prize crew off, took possession in the name of the Confederate States, and sent the barque off to sea.' […]

This is an excerpt from the book: Cape Town Stories, by Madeleine Barnard.

Book Title: Cape Town Stories
Author: Madeleine Barnard
Type: Oral Tradition
Struik Publishers
Cape Town, 2007
ISBN 9781868729401 / ISBN 978-1-86872-940-1
Softcover, 15x21 cm, 176 pages

Barnard, Madeleine im Namibiana-Buchangebot

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