Ridiculous (and creepy) in English

This was originally posted on my old blog on 8 February 2013.

I just talked to my oldest son about the schools I attended in South Africa, and for some reason, when we finished talking, the anthem of my primary school was stuck in my head. I sang the first few lines to him, and he asked me what language that was. “Afrikaans,” I replied. “It means… it… HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAAAA!”

Primary school anthem (this was in an all-white school on the outskirts of Boksburg, which wore the mud crown of racist capital of the world for a while in the eighties):

“Busy working, vigilant” is our motto.
To obey this motto remains our choice! (we sang together in a forced choir).
Diligently, eagerly on the job!
We stand strong against temptation (I always wondered what temptations these were we were supposed to stand strong against).
(from here my memory is a bit sketchy, but I recall this line:)
We remain vigilant against slacking off.

High school, not quite as hilarious as primary:

We have received the order
to, with hearts that are fierce and free,
climb the steep bits
to high, where the morning star gleams.

Aware of our calling we will serve
we will learn, we will see with more clarity (this is hilarious if you’ve been in that school. A more accurate song would be: aware of our calling we will learn, we will conform and abandon all uppity ideas of thinking for ourselves)
Calling-aware we will stride
along the road, looking forward.

The songs are well-meant, and don’t sound strange at all in the original Afrikaans. It’s one more of the things that just have me rolling with laughter when I try to translate it into English.