The Execution of Josef Fourie
In this poem, the Dutch poet Albert Verwey criticises the execution of Boer rebel Josef Fourie by the pro-British government of South Africa. Verwey defends the rights of the Dutch-speaking Afrikaners whom he considers as his racial brothers. The poem was published in a Dutch monthly De Beweging (The Movement). To read the original poem and the English translation, please click on the sources above.
The effect of the Boer War lingered on during the First World War. Even neutral Dutch intellectuals like the revered poet, critic, and intellectual Albert Verwey felt a profound sympathy for who were generally considered their kinsmen, the Afrikaners. This poem laments Josef Fourie, the Boer War veteran executed by firing squad during the Rebellion of 1914 against General Louis Botha, the then Prime Minister of South Africa who had pledged loyalty to the British. The rebels did not want to side with their arch enemies, the British. The poem reflects a lingering anti-British attitude among many Dutch citizens because of a British imperialist attitude towards the Afrikaners and a British sea blockade which obstructed the trade of the 'neutral' Dutch. Boer memories contributed to Dutch disbelief in British self-promotion as the protector of small, neutral nations and international rights.