Eugène Marais: a life of tragedy and triumph
Farmer's Weekly|November 05, 2021
A pioneering naturalist, a remarkable poet and author, and a torchbearer of Afrikaans, Eugène Marais nonetheless lived a life wreathed in sadness.
Eugène Marais

Marais was a pioneer in ethology (the study of animal behaviour), but did not follow up his original studies with more disciplined, scientific work to flesh out his findings. WIKIMEDIA COMMONS

Eugène Marais was born in Pretoria on 9 January 1871, the 13th and last child of Jan and Catharina Marais. Although his education was in English, his home language was Dutch, and he loved the ‘new’ Afrikaans language, the development of which was to fascinate him for the rest of his life.

Afrikaans had evolved from Dutch, as well as a dialect spoken by the Dutch settlers in South Africa. The youngest of the Germanic languages, it began to develop its distinguishing characteristics during the 18th century.

With the expansion into the interior by the Trek Boers, traders and hunters, the new language adopted words from Khoisan, Cape Malay, Griqua, German, French and, later, English.

Marais and many fellow Afrikaners were committed to perfecting Afrikaans. At the same time, he was enthralled by the verse of William Shakespeare, John Milton and Robert Burns and inspired by the freethinking poets William Wordsworth, Samuel Taylor and Robert Southey.

After leaving school, Marais joined a legal firm in Pretoria as a clerk, and at the age of just 20 became the owner and editor of the newspaper Land en Volk. He was an outspoken critic of President Paul Kruger, which made him (Marais) extremely unpopular in the Transvaal.

THE MADNESS OF MORPHINE

Continue reading your story on the app

Continue reading your story in the magazine

MORE STORIES FROM FARMER'S WEEKLYView All

Why wetlands are vital for humans and nature: Part 1

Wetlands vary greatly in type, yet all are indispensable for purifying water and controlling its flow. They include mountain springs, midland marshes, flood plains, coastal lakes, mangrove swamps and estuaries.

2 mins read
Farmer's Weekly
January 07 - 14, 2022

‘COVID-19 deaths help drive up goat sales'

Communal goat farmers in South Africa can set their own prices due to a shortage of the animals brought about by COVID- 19-related deaths, according to Gugu Mbata, project manager of the Mdukatshani Rural Develpment Project.

2 mins read
Farmer's Weekly
January 28, 2022

SA breeder's new cultivar sparks fresh love for passion fruit

Mpumalanga-based granadilla breeder Darryn Stoltz has developed a delicious new passion fruit cultivar that offers several advantages over previous varieties. One of these is longer shelf life, enabling the export of better-quality fruit. He spoke to Lindi Botha.

7 mins read
Farmer's Weekly
January 28, 2022

The layperson's guide to ley farming

Over the past few years, monocropping has largely given way to the crop rotation system, and ley farming has gained popularity in grain-producing areas such as KwaZulu-Natal, Mpumalanga, the Free State and North West, where many farmers also produce livestock. Prof Chris Dannhauser spoke to Susan Marais about how the rotating of grain crops with planted pastures can be a highly useful practice.

8 mins read
Farmer's Weekly
January 28, 2022

The good and the bad of chimera

Chimera can be mistaken for a viral or bacterial infection, but it is actually a genetic disorder that could benefit some producers.

2 mins read
Farmer's Weekly
January 28, 2022

Massey Ferguson launches new tractor for orchards

With interest in the production of orchard crops on the rise, Massey Ferguson has launched the MF 3300 narrow-width tractor series in SA.

3 mins read
Farmer's Weekly
January 28, 2022

John Deere self-driving tractor is ready for commercial use

John Deere recently launched a fully autonomous tractor at the Consumer Technology Association’s show in Las Vegas, and it will be on sale in the US later this year.

2 mins read
Farmer's Weekly
January 28, 2022

Making it with medical cannabis

Thinking of producing medical cannabis? Glenneis Kriel spoke to industry pioneers about the opportunities and pitfalls for growers of this crop.

6 mins read
Farmer's Weekly
January 28, 2022

Indigenous veld goats: the ideal option for extreme conditions

Changing weather conditions and Africa’s severe poverty demand tough, easy-to-care-for livestock. The answer, says breeder Deon Vlok, is indigenous veld goats. Annelie Coleman reports.

4 mins read
Farmer's Weekly
January 28, 2022

Combating the effects of soil pollution

Soil pollution is a serious challenge worldwide, resulting in environmental damage and potential health hazards to people and animals. This report examines affordable ways in which farmers can limit its effects on their crops and reduce further soil degradation.

5 mins read
Farmer's Weekly
January 28, 2022
RELATED STORIES

South Africa lifts curfew as Omicron wave subsides

South Africa’s fourth Covid wave fuelled by the more contagious Omicron strain may have peaked, government officials believe as restrictions were lifted ahead of New Year’s Eve celebrations.

2 mins read
The Independent
January 01, 2022

Karoo character in the city

When your heart belongs to the platteland but you’ve made a home in Pretoria, you bring the best of both worlds together.

9 mins read
Home South Africa
December 2021/January 2022

LOVE, HEARTBREAK THEN 65 YEARS LATER MR & MRS

Dirk and Estelle were starstruck teenagers – then life got in the way. Now they’ve found each other again and they’re smitten

5 mins read
YOU South Africa
2 December 2021

PAROLE FOR OSCAR?

Oscar Pistorius’ family are grateful and in good spirits ahead of his possible release from prison, but Reeva’s parents still have unanswered questions

6 mins read
YOU South Africa
18 November 2021

Hanco

The Afrikaans singer taps into the English pop scene

2 mins read
YOU South Africa
4 November 2021

‘A tour de force': Damon Galgut's apartheid-era saga wins Booker prize

Damon Galgut has won the Booker prize for his portrait of a white South African family navigating the end of apartheid.

3 mins read
The Guardian
November 04, 2021

BULLIES DIDN'T STOP ME

As a shy child, new Miss SA Lalela Mswane struggled with her self-esteem. Now she hopes to inspire girls like her to dream big

4 mins read
YOU South Africa
28 October 2021

The Man Who Found Peace In A Busy Restaurant In The Heart Of Africa

Philip Opperman lives and works in a picture postcard. On the banks of a tranquil lake east of Rwanda, this South African farmer runs a popular restaurant bar and sells fresh fish. He came looking for peace but found so much more.

5 mins read
Forbes Africa
October - November 2021

Ask the experts

Keen to turn your bathroom into a sanctuary on a budget? Just ask – we’ll find the answers.

5 mins read
Home South Africa
August 2021

ASHES TO ASHES

His wife died from Covid-related complications – then his stepdaughter took her mother’s remains, leaving him no choice but to go to court

5 mins read
YOU South Africa
19 August 2021