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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)[N 1]
Adopted 1997
Audio sample
"National Anthem of South Africa" (instrumental)



The fact that it shifts (modulates) and ends in a different key, a feature it shares with the Italian and the Philippine national anthems,[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 half was arranged by M. Kumhalo[citation needed] and the latter half of the song was arranged by Jeanne Zaidel-Rudolph, who also wrote the final verse.[citation needed] Captain Ephraim Katz (Director of Music, SA Army Band) arranged the official Military Band version in 1992 for Military Ceremonial purposes.[citation needed] Warrant Officer II Mikhail Korsakov, AKA Hans Nel (Director of Music, heading the SA Navy's Music Publishing Department) arranged the official Symphonic Orchestra version, in 2017, for use at concerts and gala event for State Officials visits.[citation needed]


"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" (English: "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 Suid-Afrika" (English: "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 dual national anthems in 1994, when they were performed at Nelson Mandela's inauguration.[4] They were merged in abridged forms in 1997 to form the current national anthem. The new English lyrics were adapted from the last four lines of the first stanza of "Die Stem van Suid-Afrika" (English: "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]


In recent years, the South African national anthem has come under criticism for its Afrikaans verse as it was used in the national anthem of South Africa during the apartheid era,[6] with some calling for the verse to be removed because of this connection.[7] Others defend the inclusion of the verse, pointing out that it is included in large part due to the wishes of the first post-apartheid South African president, Nelson Mandela.[8][4][5]


Language Lyrics English translation[9]
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 setjhaba sa heso,
O fedise dintwa le matshwenyeho,
O se boloke, O se boloke setjhaba sa heso,
Setjhaba 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,
Ringing out from our blue heavens,
From our deep seas breaking round,
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. ^ The South African military band's ceremonial version is arranged by Captain Ephraim Katz of the SA Army and the symphonic orchestral version was arranged by Warrant Officer Mikhail Korsakov (AKA Hans Nel) of the SA Navy in 2017.


  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". Archived from the original on 25 May 2012. Retrieved 6 June 2012. 
  4. ^ a b Carlin, John (2008). Playing the Enemy. New York: Penguin. pp. 147, 153. ISBN 978-1-59420-174-5. 
  5. ^ a b Carlin, John (2008). Playing the Enemy. New York: Penguin. pp. 173–178. ISBN 978-1-59420-174-5. 
  6. ^ Haden, Alexis (27 December 2017). "Nkosi Sikelel' iAfrika named best national anthem in the world". The South African. 
  7. ^ Haden, Alexis (18 April 2017). "EFF calls for removal of Die Stem on 120th anniversary of Enoch Sontonga's death". 
  8. ^ "EFF 'missing the plot' on Die Stem - HeraldLIVE". 27 September 2015. 
  9. ^ Official South African government translation:

External linksEdit