Boers sing the praises of a glorious past to show anger at present

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JOHANNESBURG -- A folk song that invokes the return of a fabled Boer general to lead his downtrodden people has become a massive hit in South Africa and raised fears of a revival of Afrikaner nationalism.

More than 180,000 copies have been sold of De La Rey, a tribute to Koos de la Rey, regarded as the most powerful and unyielding of the Boer generals who fought against the British.

Wherever young Afrikaners now gather —- at rugby matches, cultural festivals or barbeques —- they stand moist-eyed, hands over hearts and belt out “De La Rey, De La Rey”. One rugby ground tried to ban it but such was the public outcry it had to reverse its decision.

Many worried commentators have written about how the song is a call to Afrikaners to mobilise against black people in general and the government in particular. The singer Bok van Blerk says, however, it is no more than a vehicle with which to express Afrikaner pride.

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