National anthem of South Africa

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National Anthem of South Africa
Flag of South Africa.svg
The national flag of South Africa.

National anthem of  South Africa
Also known as Nkosi Sikelel' iAfrika (First segment)
English: God Bless Africa
Die Stem van Suid-Afrika (Second segment)
English: The Voice of South Africa
Lyrics Enoch Sontonga, 1897
C.J. Langenhoven, 1918
Music Enoch Sontonga, 1897
Martin Linius de Villiers, 1921
Adopted 1997
Music sample

Since 1997, the South African national anthem has been a hybrid song combining new English lyrics with extracts of the hymn 'Nkosi Sikelel' iAfrika' (God Bless Africa) and 'Die Stem van Suid-Afrika' (The Call of South Africa).


The fact that it shifts (modulates) and ends in a different key, is a feature it shares with the Italian national anthem,[1] makes it compositionally unusual. The lyrics employ the five most widely spoken of South Africa's eleven official languages – Xhosa (first stanza, first two lines), Zulu (first stanza, last two lines), Sesotho (second stanza), Afrikaans (third stanza), and English (final stanza).


'Nkosi Sikelel' iAfrika' was composed by a Methodist school teacher named Enoch Sontonga in 1897. It was first sung as a church hymn with music taken from the tune Aberystwyth composed by Joseph Parry but later became an act of political defiance against the apartheid government. 'Die Stem' is a poem written by C. J. Langenhoven in 1918 and was set to music by the Reverend Marthinus Lourens de Villiers in 1921.[2] 'Die Stem van Suid-Afrika' was the co–national anthem[3] with 'God Save The King'/'God Save The Queen' between 1938 and 1957, when it became the sole national anthem until 1994.

The South African government adopted both songs as national anthems in 1994, when they were performed at Nelson Mandela's inauguration.[4] They were merged in 1997 to form the current anthem. The new English lyrics were adapted from the last four lines of the first stanza of 'Die Stem van Suid-Afrika', with the changes made to reflect hope in post-apartheid South African society.

For the 1995 Rugby World Cup, Morné du Plessis suggested that the Springboks learn all the words of 'Nkosi Sikelel' iAfrika', and "they did so with great feeling", according to their instructor Anne Munnik.[5]


Language Lyrics English translation[6]
Xhosa Nkosi sikelel' iAfrika
Maluphakanyisw' uphondo lwayo,
God bless Africa
Let its (Africa's) horn be raised,
Zulu Yizwa imithandazo yethu,
Nkosi sikelela, thina lusapho lwayo.
Listen also to our prayers,
Lord bless us, we are the family of it (Africa).
Sesotho Morena boloka setjhaba sa heso,
O fedise dintwa le matshwenyeho,
O se boloke, O se boloke setjhaba sa heso,
Setjhaba sa, South Afrika, South Afrika .
Lord bless our nation,
Stop wars and sufferings,
Save it, save our nation,
The nation of South Africa, South Africa.
Afrikaans Uit die blou van onse hemel,
Uit die diepte van ons see,
Oor ons ewige gebergtes,
Waar die kranse antwoord gee,
From the blue of our skies,
From the depth of our sea,
Over everlasting mountains,
Where the echoing craggs resound!
Sounds the call to come together,
And united we shall stand,
Let us live and strive for freedom
In South Africa our land!

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "South Africa – National Anthem of South Africa (Die Stem van Suid-Afrika/Nkosi Sikelel' iAfrika)". Retrieved 2011-11-27. 
  2. ^ "SA National Anthem History". Retrieved 2007-10-21. 
  3. ^ "The Presidency: National Anthem". Retrieved 2012-06-06. 
  4. ^ Carlin, John (2008). Playing the Enemy. New York: Penguin. pp. 147, 153. ISBN 978-1-59420-174-5. 
  5. ^ Carlin, John (2008). Playing the Enemy. New York: Penguin. pp. 173–178. ISBN 978-1-59420-174-5. 
  6. ^ "Teach Yourself to sing Nkosi Sikelel' iAfrica". 2012-07-15. Retrieved 2012-08-27. 

External links[edit]