Daar Kom Die Alibama!

by subacati



Lyrics

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 rietkoi nooi,
Die rietkoi is gemaak,
Die rietkoi is vir my gemaak,
Om daarop te slaap…

O Alibama, die Alibama,
O Alibama, die kom oor die see,
O Alibama, die Alibama,
O Alibama, die kom oor die see…

English translation
There comes the Alabama
The Alabama (which) comes across the sea
There comes the Alabama
The Alabama (which) comes across the sea

Maid, maid the rotang bed maid
The rotang bed is made
The rotang bed is (was) made for me
In order to sleep on it

Oh Alabama, the Alabama
Oh Alabama (which) comes across the sea
Oh Alabama, the Alabama
Oh Alabama (which) comes across the sea

Explanation of the lyrics:

This song was inspired by the USS Alabama, a Confederate Navy merchant raider, that sailed in to Cape Town harbour in 1863.
While the song is considered an "Afrikaner folk song" now, it was originally created the the Cape Malay minstrels and has only recently been adopted by the Afrikaaner.

As this is an informal song, there is no set order for the first two verses and they are often sung several times.
The last verse is used to close the song. A common practice of the Malay minstrels is to sing several songs in a continuous medley.

The lyrics of the second verse are strange. The word 'nooi' is Afrikaans for a young and/or unmarried woman. The term was also used for female slaves and servants at some point. (later, the term 'maid' was used. Pronounced 'mate' in Afrikaans and used as a pejorative term)
Some websites that I've come across have speculated that it's a reference to interacial sexual relations. However, it seems more likely to me that the words, 'rietkoi nooi' was an older Afrikaans term for 'chamber maid' rather than any reference to sexual activity.
Rotang furniture has a very long tradition in South Africa as is was lighter and easier to transport than furniture made from other material. So references to rotang furniture is to be expected in South African music and literature. (historical literature at least.)

It's interesting to note in this video that the audience is mostly white. They certainly seem to be enjoying the music. :p

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