KwaZulu-Natal Heritage Preservation Initiative


Sara Johanna Adriana Maré (Sarie Marais) – Grave

The famous South African song “Sarie Marais” is claimed to be based on  Sara Johanna Adriana Maré. The song was named after a farmer’s wife in the Greytown district. Sara Johanna Adriana Maré was born in Uitenhage, Cape Province on 10 May 1840,  and married after her 17th birthday to Louis Jacobus Nel in 1857 in Pietermaritzburg. Louis Jacobus Nel  was from Umvoti County in the Greytown district

Her honeymoon was spent trekking by ox Wagon to the Cape before they settled on the farm Welgegund, near Kranskop.

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. One of her sons, the Reverend Paul Nel, was chaplain to the Boer forces early in 1902 when General Louis Botha was massing his forces near Louwsberg for the third invasion of Natal and, around the camp fire, Paul used to tell stories about his beautiful mother. When Ella de Wet, wife of one of General Botha’s staff members, arrived at the farm where the Boers were concentrated, she entertained them on the farmhouse piano.

The only songbook available was an American publication, “The Cavendish Song Book”, and the most popular song in it was “My Darling Ellie Rhee”. The refrain went:
Sweet Ellie Rhee, so dear to me
Is lost forever more
Our home was down in Tennessee
Before this cruel war
Then carry me back to Tennessee
Back where I long to be
Amid the fields of yellow corn
To my darling Ellie Rhee

The Boer soldiers put their own words to the song and substituted Sarie Marais for Ellie Rhee. After the war, Mrs Ella de Wet arranged the tune and had it published as

“Sarie-Marais – ‘n Afrikaanse volkslied.”

Original Afrikaans version (ca 1880 )

Mijn lieve Sarah Marais is ver weg van mij,
maar ik hoop om haar weer te zien.
Ik ontmoette haar voor het uitbreken van de oorlog
in de Mooi River County.


Oh, lang ik om terug te gaan naar de Zuid-Afrikaansche Republiek,
    waar mijn lieve Sarie woont.
    Daar, tussen het koren en het groene doorn boom,
    daar woont mijn lieve Sarie Marais.

Modern Afrikaans version

My Sarie Marais is so ver van my hart,
Maar’k hoop om haar weer te sien.
Sy het in die wyk van die Mooirivier gewoon,
Nog voor die oorlog het begin.


O bring my t’rug na die ou Transvaal,
    Daar waar my Sarie woon.
    Daar onder in die mielies
    By die groen doringboom,
    Daar woon my Sarie Marais.

Ek was so bang dat die Kakies my sou vang
En ver oor die see wegstuur;
Toe vlug ek na die kant van die Upington se sand
Daar onder langs die Grootrivier.


Die Kakies is mos net soos ‘n krokodillepes,
Hulle sleep jou altyd water toe;
Hul gooi jou op ‘n skip vir ‘n lange, lange trip,
Die josie weet waarnatoe.


Verlossing het gekom en die huis toe gaan was daar,
Terug na die ou Transvaal;
My lieflingspersoon sal seker ook daar wees
Om my met ‘n kus te beloon.


Sarie Marais English lyrics

My Sarie Marais is so far from my heart
But I hope to see her again
She lived in the area of Mooi-river
Before the war began


    Oh bring me back to the old Transvaal
    Where my Sarie lives
    There by the maize
    By the green thorn tree
    There my Sarie lives

I was so scared that the Kakhis would catch me
And send me far across the sea
So I fled to Upington
there next to the Grootriver


The khakis are just like crocodiles
They always drag you to the water
They throw you on a ship for a long long trip;
Who knows where they’re taking you


Relief came and it was possible that we could go home
back to the old Transvaal
My love will probably also be there
to reward me with a kiss

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 and made in 1931. Filmed in Johannesburg, Sarie Marais manages to pack a lot into its 10-minute running time. Set in a British POW camp, the film concentrates on a group of Boer prisoners as they pass the time under the watchful eye of their 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 [1].

Afrikaner nationalism was emerging as a force in these years, and Sarie Marais portrayed the British cultural and economic imperialism negatively (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 British and American films pervading the country.

Francis Coley directed a remake of this film, again titled Sarie Marais in 1949.

Article Information:


Creator  Reinhardt Hartzenberg
Content Owner KZNHPI
Content Owner URL Unavailable
Source Unavailable
Location Welgegund farm, near Kranskop
Content information Grave of Sara Johanna Adriana Maré
Date of creation 1 February 2014
Content Type Photograph
Content Specification Unavailable
Article ID 1086
Universal identifier  Unavailable
GPS Coordinates S29°03’01.0″ E030°44’16.5″  Elevation: 1060 m
Copyright Notice all rights reserved
Restrictions / Access Public access / with limited usage rights
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AUDIO FILE: Sarie Marais played by the Band of HM Royal Marines Commando Training Centre

The below gallery shows the Family graveyard that includes three additional gravesides to that of  Sara Johanna Adriana Maré.

Categories:   FP


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