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National anthem of South Africa

The current national anthem of South Africa was adopted in 1997 and is a hybrid song combining new Afrikaans and English lyrics with extracts of the hymn "Nkosi Sikelel' iAfrika" (English: "God Bless Africa") and "Die Stem van Suid-Afrika" (English: "The Call of South Africa").

National anthem of South Africa
National anthem of South Africa, p. 1.gif

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 Call of South Africa
Lyrics Enoch Sontonga, 1897
C. J. Langenhoven, 1918
Jeanne Zaidel-Rudolph, 1997
Music Enoch Sontonga, 1897
Martin Linius de Villiers, 1921 (arranged by M. Kumhalo and Jeanne Zaidel-Rudolph, 1997)
Adopted 1997
Audio sample
"National anthem of South Africa"



The fact that it shifts (modulates) and ends in a different key, a feature it shares with the Italian national anthem,[1] makes it compositionally unusual. The lyrics employ the five of the 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). The first verse was arranged by M. Kumhalo and the latter half of the song was arranged by Jeanne Zaidel-Rudolph, who also wrote the final verse.


"Nkosi Sikelel' iAfrika" was composed by a Methodist school teacher named Enoch Sontonga in 1897. It was first sung as a church hymn but later became an act of political defiance against the apartheid regime. "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"/"The Call of South Africa" 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. "Die Stem van van Suid-Afrika"/"The Call of South Africa" was composed of 8 stanzas (The original 4 in Afrikaans and 4 in English - a translation of the Afrikaans). It was seldom sung in its entirety with the first stanza being the most widely known and sung.

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'/The Call of South Africa, 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,
Lord bless Africa
May her glory be lifted high,
Zulu Yizwa imithandazo yethu,
Nkosi sikelela, thina lusapho lwayo.
Hear our prayers
Lord bless us, your children.
Sesotho Morena boloka setshaba sa heso,
O fedise dintwa le matshwenyeho,
O se boloke, O se boloke setshaba sa heso,
Setshaba sa, South Afrika, South Afrika.
Lord we ask you to protect our nation,
Intervene and end all conflicts,
Protect us, protect 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,
Out of the blue of our heavens,
Out of the depths of our seas,
Over everlasting mountains,
Where the echoing crags 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 alsoEdit


  1. ^ "South Africa – National Anthem of South Africa (Die Stem van Suid-Afrika/Nkosi Sikelel' iAfrika)". Retrieved 27 November 2011. 
  2. ^ "SA National Anthem History". Retrieved 21 October 2007. 
  3. ^ "The Presidency: National Anthem". Retrieved 6 June 2012. 
  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. ^ Official South African government translation:

External linksEdit