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Vryheidsoorloë-- The Freedom Wars

by ongoeslife

Hey, all! This is my piece for the Hunger Games challenge, to write a poem about a major historical event. I wrote about the Boere Wars (known as Vryheidsoorloë in Afrikaans, and it means "The Freedom Wars"). Just a note, I referred to "death camps"; the Boere were placed in concentration camps, and that is how I chose to refer to them. Any feedback on this is appreciated! Hope you enjoy it!

Vryheid-- that is why I fight.
Freedom for my family,
to live as a Boer should.
Freedom from the shadow
of the British control.

Bronkhorst Spruit, Majuba Hill,
Pieter's Hill, Paarderberg;
no end to these battles in sight.
We see our futures;
where our families are with us,
nie in 'n kamp waar hulle moet sterf nie--
free from those ghastly death camps.

Vryheid, I say.
Vryheid in the face of
impossible odds.
Veg against the British;
we'll not be subdued
without taking our stand.

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760 Reviews

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Sun Jun 29, 2014 11:38 pm
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ExOmelas wrote a review...

Hello there. I'm going to annoy you first with a few interesting facts about the Boer Wars. Firstly, 300,000 British troops struggled to defeat roughly 60,000 Boer farmers because they were so undernourished and poorly equipped. For some reason that I don't understand totally, the Germans were supplying the Africans with sophisticated weaponry. The British, who had essentially gone on a cross-continental romp to quell an excitable colony, were unprepared and very, very bad at fighting. In my mind, this is what led to the camps.
Also, 50% of the Brits who applied for service in the fight were turned away because they did not fit the fitness requirements. They were, at that time, in no position to be oppressing anyone. In fact, Churchill said, "I see little glory in an Empire that can rule the waves but cannot flush its own sewers."

Sorry, I learned that for my history exam and it all just kind of flowed out of me there.

When we read about it for history, you got more of a British perspective and how the 'disastrous Boer war' kickstarted the Liberal reforms of 1906 as a matter of national security. We only brushed past how rubbish we were to the Boer fighters, which I hope isn't a reflection of bias... but it kind of sounds like it.

Anyways, I think you infused the Afrikaans into the poem perfectly. I thought 'shadow of the British control' was a nice touch. I was wondering if that had anything to do with 'the sun never sets on the British Empire'. Your language was emotive and made the reader furious at the British (even me, a Brit).

Well done :)

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Fri Jun 06, 2014 7:47 pm
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AstralHunter wrote a review...

Greetings, young one who is interested in my home language.

While I was scrolling through the latest of the YWS Hunger Games threads, I noticed an Afrikaans word amdist the majority of English. I had decided to investigate, and so, here I am.

Vryheid-- that is why I fight.

Vryheid indeed means freedom, but I would advise writing it in italics, like I did. Anyone who has a decent knowledge of the English language could immediately identify the Afrikaans words you have used here, but that is not why I suggest writing it in italics; in my opinion, the foreign words would look more impressive if they were written in a format which differs from the rest of the text.

to live the way of my people.

This line is rather awkward... I am not quite certain on how to repair it, though. Perhaps you could phrase it differently?

of the Khaki's control.

:shocked: x3 - Whoa, whoa, whoa. You do know that the Boere were the khaki's, don't you? In fact, the whole concept of having soldiers use camouflage originated with the Boere. That's why the British are called Red Coats - the Boere had a lovely time picking the British soldiers off one by one, as they could see their scarlet uniforms from as far as they could shoot. Military wise, the British were pathetically inferior to the Boere, which is why they had to employ tactics such as the "scorched earth" policy and spiriting the Boere's wives and children away to concentration camps. That is the reason why they won - it was a dirty and underhanded victory, however. :(

no end to these battles in sight,
except to us.

I apologise if this seems like a stupid question, but what do you mean by this?

not in kamp te sterf--

Oh dear... I have no idea what you meant by this, but what I do is that it is grammatically incorrect. You don't need to fret, however, for my language teacher often says that if you have nothing left in life about which to laugh anymore, you should let Google translate documents from English to Afrikaans. ;)

those ghastly death camps.

The places to where the British had sent the wives and children of the Boere were called "concentration camps".

Stryd against the British;

Here, I can actually see what Google Translate had done. Yes, stryd is Afrikaans for fight, but it is a noun, not a verb. I would therefore either add an our to the beginning of that line, or I would replace stryd with veg, as the latter is a verb.

In relation to the pronunciation of the Afrikaans words you and I have used, I shall provide them (words with a ' are the emphasised syllables):
1. Vryheidsoorloë - fray'--hayds--oor'*--loo--i^ (* = as in poor; ^ = as in ship)
2. Khaki - car'--key
3. Bronkhorst Spruit - Bronk'*--hurst--Spruit'^ (* = as in caught; ^ = no such vowel exists in English - try saying "spray", but with a rounder mouth)
4. Pieter - Pee'*--tir^ (* = as in sheep, but not as long; ^ = in Afrikaans, the letter "i" is mostly pronounced as in ship)
5. Paarderberg - Paar*--dhir--berg^ (* = as in are; ^ = as in bad - also, the letter "g" is a guttural sound in Afrikaans, as in loch and ugh)
6. kamp - cump'
7. sterf - sterf'* (* = as in bad)
8. Stryd - Strayd'* (* = as in may, but shorter)
9. veg - fag'* (* = once again, as in bad - also, the "g" is pronounced the same as I said earlier, and the letters "v" and "f" we pronounce the same)

Now that we have that out of the way, I should like to say this: I am honoured on behalf of all South Africans that you chose our Anglo-Boere Oorlog, our war for freedom, as the subject of your poem. From the bottom of my heart, I thank you.

Rating for this text: three and a half stars (very good)

ongoeslife says...

Haha, I was VERY hesitant to use Google Translate!!!

As far as the Khakis reference, I had heard a song written by an Afrikaaner that referred to the British as such. I assumed he knew what he was talking about; silly me. :P

ongoeslife says...

Thank you SO much for your valuable input! I hope I didn't offend you with any of my errors.

AstralHunter says...

I am happy to have been of help, and no, I am not offended - your errors were made out of ignorance and are therefore completely understandable. :)

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Fri Jun 06, 2014 4:07 pm
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Morrigan wrote a review...

Hi there, ongoeslife!

The Hunger Games certainly makes you write about different things, now doesn't it? I did not know what the Boer Wars were, and I had to read about it before I read this poem so I would have some context. I'm really glad that this brought something in history to my attention that I didn't know about before!

I like that you incorporated some Afrikaans into the poem. It lent something to it.

My suggestion to make this better would be to allow more emotion into it. I think in your quest to include these words, you lost some much needed emotion. It seems very factual to me, especially in the first one. I think that you shouldn't worry about giving context clues quite as much, and focus on the emotion of why this person is fighting. You give the factual reasons in the poem, but I didn't really feel all that much.

One way that you can make the reader feel more intense emotion is to create images with your words. I was looking up the Boer wars, and what hurt me most was the death camps. Instead of saying "those ghastly death camps," you could talk about the people in the death camps specifically (if you have a weak stomach, don't go google searching images of the prisoners). I think the images of the captives would give more emotional cause for freedom than anything else in the poem. Use simile and metaphor to create pictures. Make sure you're connecting things to things the readers are familiar with. If you compare something to a gaping, black abyss, the reader isn't going to be as familiar with that as the strange darkness that lines your closet. Just examples. I know they don't very well go along with your poem. :)

I want to know what the Afrikaans word for the British is. Would its direct translation be something horrible? Just a thought.

I hope that this review proves useful to you! May the odds be ever in your favor!

AstralHunter says...

The Afrikaans translation for "British" is "Brits" (the "i" is pronounced the same as in "ship").

magpie says...

Eh, I thought it would be more exciting, like it translating directly to something less than savory. Like "dogs" or "pigs" or something.

AstralHunter says...

Well, there are some derogatory phrases for British people, but I had decided not to mention them for the sake of decency.

When you cut pieces out of the truth to avoid looking like a fool, you end up looking like a moron instead.
— Robin Hobb