The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #81820   Message #2966831
Posted By: Q (Frank Staplin)
16-Aug-10 - 10:29 PM
Thread Name: Origins: Roll, Alabama Roll
Subject: RE: Origins: Roll, Alabama Roll
While the "Alabama" was in Table Bay, the Cape Town photographer Arthur Green took photographs aboard the ship. These are preserved at the Merseyside Maritime Museum.

An interesting book. Dr. Denis Constance-Martin, 1999, Coon Carnival, discusses the minstrels of Cape Town and their local language, "klopse."
The book mentions the "Alabama" sailing into Table Bay 5 Aug. 1863, towing the prize "Sea Bride;" "a huge crowd of excited spectators on Cape Town's Signal Hill gathered to watch the fun and the ever-popular song was immediately created."
The song itself, in Martin's words, "is definitely a Cape Town song; it shows the impact American minstrelsy had there in the 1860s and illustrates how it was reworked into a true creole production."
"The song has two aspects, the first being the simple relation of "there comes the Alabama", but the second verse has some element of social commentary, perhaps alluding to cross-racial sexual liaisons, or with the experience of racial oppression of the Cape creole people.
Cape Town's "Coon troupes" parade every January 2nd.
Members and captains are not aware of the origin of the word or the baggage it carries in the United States.

In South Africa, Daar Kom die Alibama is included with other "klopse" songs of the Cape region; it is not related to stevedores. Such references in chantey literature probably are in error.