Marching to Tshwane

Interesting (to me, anyway) item in the news this week: the Republic of South Africa is changing the name of the Pretoria metropolitan area to Tshwane, leaving Pretoria to refer only to the Voortrekker-era city center. Most significantly, the seat of government will now be in Tshwane, not Pretoria.

As I read this news, the jukebox in my brain began playing “Marching to Pretoria,”

I’m with you and you’re with me
And so we are all together,
So we are all together,
So we are all together.
Sing with me, I’ll sing with you,
And so we will sing together,
As we march along.

We are marching to Pretoria, Pretoria, Pretoria.
We are marching to Pretoria, Pretoria, Hurrah!

We have food, the food is good,
And so we will eat together,
So we will eat together,
So we will eat together,
When we eat ’twill be a treat,
And so let us sing together,
As we march along.

We are marching to Pretoria, Pretoria, Pretoria.
We are marching to Pretoria, Pretoria, Hurrah!

And as the jukebox in my brain played that tune, it made me remember learning and singing that seemingly innocuous marching song regularly in elementary school . . . which for me was in the period after the rise of the Civil Rights Movement in America, but before the fall of Apartheid in South Africa.

That seems a bit weird to me now, looking back. I wonder how the many African-American kids in my class at the time felt about singing “Pretoria, Hurrah!” I wonder if our teachers even thought about it at all. I mean, sure, the song’s words are benign, absent context, but when you figure that the Voortrekker’s descendents, still singing that song, went on to institutionalize racial intolerance by government dictate, it takes on a more malefic, fascistic tone.

Do they still teach this song in elementary schools? Does anyone know?

The Week That Was

Zip, time does fly. It didn’t even register on me that I hadn’t updated here in awhile. I guess I was too busy basking in all of the ‘404 not found’ messages I was sending to the music review linkers.

Monday, it got close to 50 degrees here, a lovely near-spring day. Then the bottom fell out: we got about a foot of snow on Tuesday, the wind was gusting at up to 40 mph, and the temperature fell to about 8 degrees here, producing windchills in the negative teens. I am tired, tired, tired of winter.

RPI has its spring break next week, so my students are starting to scatter tonight. Good for them . . . although it means next week is going to be a long one, as I will be woefully understaffed for the events we’ve got going on. Here’s hoping for no more snow until they get back, since I sure don’t want to be dealing with that as well.

We get a double whammy at work here, too, in that the week after spring break is Holy Week, the most labor-intensive seven days that we have here in our annual calendar. Easter is about as early as it can ever be this year . . . so, again, here’s hoping for another week with no snow to add to the labors already scheduled.

I have also been distracted this week by the early phases of my favorite time of the year, sporting wise: the NCAA men’s basketball tournament. Last week and this week, the conferences have been playing the tournaments, and I’ve been avidly following the progress, watching bubble teams go “pop,” watching new underdogs emerge. I love the concept that, theoretically at least, almost everyone of the 330 or so Division I teams have a chance at the title. That’s what college sports is supposed to be all about, not some corporate run, exclusionary cabal like the Bowl Championship Series, designed to keep the power in a small, central group, so that no one ever gets the chance to be an upstart. That’s just wrong.

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