In South Africa this is one song that will unite warring political factions, it will silence the arguments in parliament and make you feel the pride of being alive during the time of Nelson Mandela.
A combination of two anthems, five languages – and uniting more than 49-million people South Africa’s national anthem, Nkosi Sikelil’ iAfrika has been named the best national anthem in the world by The Economist.
In a straw poll at The Economist, this was the favourite. Taken from a protest hymn, the lyrics combine Afrikaans, English, Xhosa, Zulu and Sesotho in an act of musical healing for the Rainbow nation
The anthem, Nkosi Sikelel’ iAfrika, is a symbol of independence and resistance to apartheid, sung by the majority of the population and at all anti-apartheid rallies and gatherings.
In the official anthem of the new South Africa, the two anthems merge into one.
Die Stem van Suid Afrika (The Call of South Africa)
Die Stem van Suid Afrika was originally a poem, written by CJ Langenhoven in May 1918. The music was composed by the Reverend ML de Villiers in 1921. At the time, the South African Broadcasting Corporation played both God save the King and Die Stem to close their daily radio broadcasts, and so the public became familiar with the Afrikaans anthem.
Die Stem was first sung publicly at the official hoisting of the national flag in Cape Town on 31 May 1928, but it was not until 2 May 1957 that the government accepted it as the official national anthem. In 1962 the English version, The Call of South Africa, was accepted for official use.
Nkosi Sikelel’ iAfrika
Nkosi was composed in 1897 by Enoch Sontonga, a Methodist mission school teacher. The words of the first stanza were originally written in isiXhosa as a hymn. Seven additional stanzas in isiXhoza were later added by the poet Samuel Mqhayi. A Sesotho version was published by Moses Mphahlele in 1942.
Nkosi Sikelel’ iAfrika was popularised at concerts held in Johannesburg by Reverend JL Dube’s Ohlange Zulu Choir. It became a popular church hymn that was later adopted as an anthem at political meetings, sung as an act of defiance.
The first stanza is generally sung in isiXhosa or isiZulu, followed by the Sesotho version. Apparently there is no standard version or translations of Nkosi, and the words may vary from place to place and from occasion to occasion.
Sources: The South African | Brand South Africa