Die Stem van Suid-Afrika

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Die Stem van Suid-Afrika
English: "The Call of South Africa"
Volk en Vaderland 27 - Die stem van Suid-Afrika.png
Excerpt from the F.A.K.-Volksangbundel [af]

Former national anthem of South Africa
Also known as"Die Stem" (English: "The Call")
LyricsCornelis Jacobus Langenhoven, 1918 (1918) (English version: Collectively, 1952)
MusicMarthinus Lourens de Villiers [af], 1921 (1921)
AdoptedJune 1938 (1938-06) (jointly with "God Save the King")[1]
1957 (1957) (as the sole national anthem)
April 1994 (1994-04) (jointly with "Nkosi Sikelel' iAfrika")
Published1926 (1926)
RelinquishedApril 1994 (1994-04) (as the sole national anthem)
1997 (1997) (as the co-national anthem)
Preceded by"God Save the Queen"
Succeeded by"National anthem of South Africa"
Audio sample
"Die Stem van Suid-Afrika" (instrumental)

"Die Stem van Suid-Afrika" (Afrikaans: [di ˈstɛm fan sœi̯t ˈɑːfrika], lit. "The Voice of South Africa"), also known as simply "Die Stem" or "The Call of South Africa" is a former national anthem of South Africa, used during much of the 20th century. It was the sole national anthem from 1957 to 1994,[2] and shared co-national anthem status with "God Save the King" from 1938 to 1957[1] and with "Nkosi Sikelel' iAfrika" from 1994 to 1997, when a new hybrid song incorporating elements of both songs was adopted as the country's new national anthem, which is still in use today.[3]


Mid-20th century recording of "Die Stem van Suid-Afrika" being performed by the South African Air Force Band.
Mid-20th century recording of "Die Stem van Suid-Afrika" being performed by the South African Broadcasting Corporation Symphony Orchestra
A computerised instrumental piano rendition of "Die Stem van Suid-Afrika"
Synthesised MIDI-derived instrumental rendition of "Die Stem van Suid-Afrika"
A computerised instrumental piano rendition of "Die Stem van Suid-Afrika"
"Die Stem van Suid-Afrika" played by a US military band during a South African state visit to Washington, DC in 1994.

Background and inception[edit]

In May 1918, C.J. Langenhoven wrote an Afrikaans poem called "Die Stem", for which music was composed by the Reverend Marthinus Lourens de Villiers [af] in 1921.[4][5] It was widely used by the South African Broadcasting Corporation in the 1920s, which played it at the close of daily broadcasts, along with "God Save The King". It was recorded for the first time in 1926 when its first and third verses were performed by Betty Steyn in England for the Zonophone record label;[6][7] it was sung publicly for the first time on 31 May 1928.[5] In 1938, South Africa proclaimed it to be one of the two co-national anthems of the country, along with "God Save the King".[1]

It was sung in English as well as Afrikaans from 1952,[8][9] with both versions having official status,[10] while "God Save the Queen" did not cease to be a co-national anthem until 1957, when it was dropped from that role. However, it remained the country's royal anthem until 1961, as it was a Commonwealth realm until that point.[2][1] The poem originally had only three verses, but the government asked the author to add a fourth verse with a religious theme.


It is lugubrious in tone,[11][12] addressing throughout of commitment to the Vaderland (English: Fatherland) and to God. However, it was generally disliked by black South Africans,[13][14] who saw it as triumphalist and strongly associated it with the apartheid regime[15][16] where one verse shows dedication to Afrikaners[17] and another to the Voortrekkers' "Great Trek".[18][19][11][12] P. W. Botha, who was the state president of South Africa during the 1980s, was fond of the song and made his entourage sing it when they visited Switzerland during his presidency.[20]


As the dismantling of apartheid began in the early 1990s, South African teams were readmitted to international sporting events, which presented a problem as to the choice of national identity South Africa had to present. Agreements were made with the African National Congress (ANC) that "Die Stem van Suid-Afrika" would not be sung at rugby matches,[21] due to its connection to the apartheid system and minority rule, thus leading the ANC and other such groups at the time to view the song as offensive.[21] However, at a rugby union test match against New Zealand in 1992, the crowd spontaneously sang "Die Stem" during a moment of silence for victims of political violence in South Africa,[22] and although it was ostensibly agreed upon beforehand that it would not be played, an instrumental recording of "Die Stem" was played over the stadium's PA system's loudspeakers after the New Zealand national anthem was performed, and spectators sang along, sparking controversy afterwards.[23][24][25][26][27] At the 1992 Summer Olympics in Barcelona that year, Schiller's "Ode to Joy",[28] as set to Beethoven's music, was used instead, along with a neutral Olympic-style flag.[29]

"Die Stem van Suid-Afrika"'s future seemed in doubt as the country prepared to transition to majority rule.[30][31] In 1993, a commission sought out a new national anthem for South Africa, with 119 entries being suggested,[32] but none were chosen. Instead, it was decided to retain "Die Stem"'s official status after the advent of full multi-racial democracy which followed the 1994 general election. When the old South African flag was lowered for the last time at the parliament building in Cape Town, "Die Stem" was performed in Afrikaans and then in English as the new South African flag was raised.[33] After 1994, it shared equal status with "Nkosi Sikelel' iAfrika", which had long been a traditional hymn used by the ANC. In 1995, "Die Stem van Suid-Afrika" was sung by a black choir at the Rugby World Cup final match,[34][35] as it had been done at the 1994 South African presidential inauguration in Pretoria,[36] first in Afrikaans and then in English.


The practice of singing two different national anthems had been a cumbersome arrangement during the transition to post-apartheid South Africa. On most occasions, it was usually the first verse of "Die Stem van Suid-Afrika" that was sung at ceremonies, in both official languages prior to 1994, with some English medium schools in what was then Natal Province singing the first verse in Afrikaans and the second in English. During this period of two national anthems, the custom was to play both "Die Stem" and "Nkosi Sikelel' iAfrika" during occasions that required the playing of a national anthem. However, this proved cumbersome as performing the dual national anthems took as much as five minutes to conclude.[37] In 1997, following the adoption of a new national constitution, a new composite national anthem was introduced, which combined part of "Nkosi Sikelel 'iAfrika" and part of "Die Stem van Suid-Afrika" into a single composition in order to form a new hybrid song.


Since the end of apartheid and the adoption of a new national anthem in the 1990s, the status of "Die Stem" has become somewhat controversial in contemporary South Africa,[38][39][40] due to its connection with the apartheid regime and white minority rule.[41][42][43][44][45]

Although elements of it are used in the current South African national anthem, in recent years some South Africans have called for those segments to be removed due to their connection with apartheid,[46][47][48] whereas others defend the inclusion of it as it was done for post-apartheid re-conciliatory reasons.[49][50][51] When "Die Stem" was mistakenly played by event organisers in place of the current South African national anthem during a UK-hosted women's field hockey match in 2012, it sparked outrage and confusion among the South African staff members and players present.[52][53][54][55][16][56][57]

The Afrikaans version remains popular with Afrikaner nationalists[58] and far-right organisations[59] such as the Afrikaner Weerstandsbeweging, where it is sometimes performed at the funerals of such groups' members or at demonstrations by them.[60][61][62][63] "Die Stem" was also the name of a far-right periodical during the apartheid era.[64]


A 1938 recording of "Die Stem van Suid-Afrika" being performed by the ASAF Choir, featuring the first and last verses.
"Die Stem van Suid-Afrika"'s all four stanzas sung in Afrikaans by a choir in the mid-20th century
"The Call of South Africa"'s all four stanzas sung in English by a choir in the mid-20th century
The lyrics of "The Call of South Africa" read a capella in English.
The lyrics of "Die Stem van Suid-Afrika" read a capella in Afrikaans.
The lyrics of "Die Stem van Suid-Afrika" read a capella in Afrikaans.
The lyrics of "Die Stem van Suid-Afrika"'s first stanza read a capella in Dutch.
"Die Stem van Suid-Afrika" "The Call of South Africa"[65] Literal translation from Afrikaans
First verse
Uit die blou van onse hemel, Ringing out from our blue heavens, From the blue of our heaven
Uit die diepte van ons see, From our deep seas breaking round, From the depths of our sea,
Oor ons ewige gebergtes Over everlasting mountains, Over our eternal mountain ranges
Waar die kranse antwoord gee. Where the echoing crags resound, Where the cliffs give answer
Deur ons vêr verlate vlaktes From our plains where creaking wagons, Through our far-deserted plains
Met die kreun van ossewa. Cut their trails into the earth, With the groan of ox-wagon
Ruis die stem van ons geliefde, Calls the spirit of our country, Rustles the voice of our beloved,
Van ons land Suid-Afrika. Of the land that gave us birth. Of our country South Africa
Ons sal antwoord op jou roepstem, At thy call we shall not falter, We will answer to your calling,
Ons sal offer wat jy vra: Firm and steadfast we shall stand, We will offer what you ask
Ons sal lewe, ons sal sterwe, At thy will to live or perish, We will live, we will die
Ons vir jou, Suid-Afrika. O South Africa, dear land. We for Thee, South Africa
Second verse
In die murg van ons gebeente, In our body and our spirit, In the marrow of our bones
in ons hart en siel en gees, In our inmost heart held fast; In our heart and soul and spirit
In ons roem op ons verlede, In the promise of our future, In the glory of our past
In ons hoop op wat sal wees. And the glory of our past; In our hope of what will be
In ons wil en werk en wandel, In our will, our work, our striving, In our will and work and wander,
Van ons wieg tot aan ons graf. From the cradle to the grave- From our crib to our grave
Deel geen ander land ons liefde, There's no land that shares our loving, Share no other land our love,
Trek geen ander trou ons af. And no bond that can enslave. No other loyalty can sway us.
Vaderland, ons sal die adel, Thou hast borne us and we know thee, Fatherland! We will bear the nobility
Van jou naam met ere dra: May our deeds to all proclaim Of your name with honour:
Waar en trou as Afrikaners, Our enduring love and service Dedicated and true as Afrikaners,
Kinders van Suid-Afrika. To thy honour and thy name. Children of South Africa
Third verse
In die songloed van ons somer, In the golden warmth of summer, In the sunglow of our summer,
in ons winternag se kou, In the chill of winter's air, In our winter night's cold
In die lente van ons liefde, In the surging life of springtime, In the spring of our love,
in die lanfer van ons rou. In the autumn of despair; In the autumn of our sorrow
By die klink van huw'liksklokkies, When the wedding bells are chiming, At the sound of wedding bells,
by die kluit-klap op die kis. Or when those we love do depart, At the stonefall on the coffin.
Streel jou stem ons nooit verniet nie, Thou dost know us for thy children Soothes your voice us never in vain,
Weet jy waar jou kinders is. And dost take us to thy heart You know where your children are.
Op jou roep sê ons nooit née nie, Loudly peals the answering chorus; At your call we never say no,
Sê ons altyd, altyd ja: We are thine, and we shall stand, We always, always say yes:
Om te lewe, om te sterwe - Be it life or death, to answer To live, to die –
Ja, ons kom, Suid-Afrika. To thy call, beloved land. Yes, we come South Africa
Fourth verse
Op U Almag vas vertrouend In thy power, Almighty, trusting, On your almight steadfast entrusted
het ons vadere gebou: Did our fathers build of old; Had our fathers built:
Skenk ook ons die krag, o Here! Strengthen then, O Lord, their children Give to us also the strength, o Lord!
Om te handhaaf en te hou. To defend, to love, to hold- To sustain and to preserve.
Dat die erwe van ons vadere That the heritage they gave us That the heritage of our fathers
Vir ons kinders erwe bly: For our children yet may be; For our children heritage remain
Knegte van die Allerhoogste, Bondsmen only to the Highest[a] Servants of the almighty,
Teen die hele wêreld vry. And before the whole world free. Against the whole world free.
Soos ons vadere vertrou het, As our fathers trusted humbly, As our fathers trusted,
Leer ook ons vertrou, o Heer: Teach us, Lord to trust Thee still; Teach us also to trust, o Lord:
Met ons land en met ons nasie Guard our land and guide our people With our land and with our nation
Sal dit wel wees, God regeer. In Thy way to do Thy will. It will be well, God reigns.

In popular culture[edit]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Sometimes given as: "Bondsmen only of the Highest".[66]


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  4. ^ "Wayback Machine". 10 November 2013.
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  8. ^ Moeschberger, Scott L.; DeZalia, Rebekah A. Phillips. Symbols that Bind, Symbols that Divide: The Semiotics of Peace and Conflict. Springer. p. 185. ISBN 9783319054643. Retrieved 28 April 2017.
  9. ^ Tshabalala, Nonjabulo (21 February 2014). "South African National Anthem – Not for me thank you". The Underground Disciple. WordPress. Retrieved 28 December 2017.
  10. ^ Hamilton, Janice. South Africa. United Kingdom: Lerner Books. p. 69. ISBN 9781580134514. Retrieved 28 April 2017.
  11. ^ a b Carlin, John. Playing the Enemy: Nelson Mandela and the Game That Made a Nation.
  12. ^ a b Carlin, John (18 November 2009). Invictus: Nelson Mandela and the Game That Made a Nation. Penguin – via Google Books.
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  15. ^ "Neighbors Confront `Apartheid Wall'; Blacks, Whites Hold Picnic at Barricade". 22 September 1991. Retrieved 31 October 2018.
  16. ^ a b "The Road To London Is Paved With Olympic Gaffes". NPR. All Things Considered. NPR. 8 June 2012. Retrieved 1 November 2018.
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  26. ^ The 1992 return match - Teams, Anthems and Haka. YouTube. 28 May 2011.
  27. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 25 March 2012. Retrieved 14 August 2011.
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  30. ^ "S. Africa Approves Charter; White-Led Parliament Votes for Constitution Canceling Its Powers". 23 December 1993.
  31. ^ "South Africa approves new constitution to end white rule. (Originated from Knight-Ridder Newspapers)". 22 December 1993.
  32. ^ Daniszewski, John (27 October 1993). "Finding Symbols For New S. Africa // Citizens Submit 7,000 Flag Designs". Chicago Sun-Times. Illinois. Retrieved 1 November 2018.
  33. ^ Antonio Coppola (24 May 2018). "Raising of the New South African Flag" – via YouTube.
  34. ^ World Rugby (9 September 2015). "Anthem: South Africa sing passionately at RWC 1995" – via YouTube.
  35. ^ inkmonamour (28 October 2015). "South Africa vs New Zealand - 1995 Rugby World Cup final (anthems + haka)" – via YouTube.
  36. ^ SABC Digital News (8 May 2015). "Full Nelson Mandela Inauguration on 10th of May 1994". South Africa: SABC. Retrieved 6 November 2018 – via YouTube.
  37. ^ McNeil, Jr., Donald G. (28 March 1996). "Johannesburg Journal;Will Rugby Embrace, or Crush, a Dainty Flower?". The New York Times. New York.
  38. ^ "Old Boys Ban for Die Stem". Cape Times. South Africa. 23 May 2018. Retrieved 1 November 2018.
  39. ^ "Why I Choose to Sing Die Stem". The Sunday Independent. South Africa. 4 October 2015. Retrieved 1 November 2018.
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  41. ^ "PressReader.com - Connecting People Through News". www.pressreader.com.
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  54. ^ CNN, By Richard Allen Greene,. "Britain apologizes for playing apartheid-era anthem - CNN".
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  56. ^ "South Africa want apology for anthem fiasco". 6 June 2012.
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  58. ^ "Vryheidsfront Plus / Freedom Front Plus". af-za.facebook.com.
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  60. ^ "Special Reports - Africa News Timeline April 10". BBC World Service. BBC. 10 April 2010. Retrieved 12 June 2018. Terreblanche funeral: Thousands of white mourners sing the anthem of apartheid South Africa
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  64. ^ "Vocal S. African Weekly Faces Likely Suspension by Pretoria". 29 April 1988.
  65. ^ "flatinternational - South African audio archive - Various Artists - Die Stem Van Suid-Afrika / The Call of South Africa". www.flatinternational.org.
  66. ^ Lill, Dawid Van. Van Lill's South African Miscellany. Zebra Press. Retrieved 6 June 2018 – via Google Books.

External links[edit]