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The National Anthem of South Africa

The national anthem is often referred to as “Nkosi Sikelel’ iAfrika”, but this has never been its official title, which is simply “National Anthem of South Africa”.

The national anthem of South Africa was adopted in 1997.

The first half of the song was arranged by Mzilikazi Khumalo and the second half by Jeanne Zaidel-Rudolph, who also wrote the last verse.

It is a song that combines parts from the 19th century Xhosa hymn “Nkosi Sikelel’ iAfrika” (English: “God Bless Africa”), as well as the Afrikaans song “Die Stem van Suid-Afrika” (English: “The Voice of South Africa”), which was used as the South African national anthem during apartheid, together with a new English text.

“Nkosi Sekelel’ iAfrika” was composed in 1897 by Enoch Sontonga, a Methodist school teacher. Originally sung as a church hymn, it later became an act of political resistance against the apartheid government.

“Die Stem van Suid-Afrika” was written by C.J. Langenhoven in 1918.

The lyrics make use of the five most widely spoken of South Africa’s eleven official languages.

Xhosa (in the first stanza, the first two lines), Zulu (in the first stanza, the last two lines).
Then Sesotho (in the second stanza), followed by Afrikaans (in the third stanza), and finally English (in the fourth stanza).

It is the only neo-modal national anthem in the world, by virtue of being the only one that starts in one key and finishes in another.

In recent years, the South African national anthem has come under criticism for its Afrikaans verse as it was originally part of the national anthem of South Africa that was used during the apartheid era, with some political parties calling for the verse to be removed, supposedly because of this connection.

However, 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 Rolihlahla Mandela, who intended its inclusion as a reconciliatory measure for the post-apartheid future of South Africa.

In fact, the national anthem speaks of a united and democratic South Africa.

A country with a forward-looking Constitution.
A country that provides its citizens with an ever-expanding base of opportunities.

The national anthem gives South Africans a sense of common identity and promotes national pride, social inclusion and reconciliation.

The National Anthem of South Africa


Nkosi sikelel’ iAfrika
Maluphakanyisw’ uphondo lwayo,


Yizwa imithandazo yethu,
Nkosi sikelela, thina lusapho Iwayo.


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.


Uit die blou van onse hemel,
Uit die diepte van ons see,
Oor ons ewige gebergtes,
Waar die kranse antwoord gee.


Sounds the call to come together,
And united we shall stand,
Let us live and strive for freedom,
In South Africa, our land.


Translated into English:

Lord, bless Africa.
Let it/us be exalted/raised up.
Hear our prayer.
Lord, bless us, your family/children.

Lord, save my community/people.
End wars and suffering—don’t keep it,
don’t keep it. My community/people,
the people of South Africa, South Africa.

From the blue of our heavens,
From the depths of our seas,
Over everlasting/eternal mountains,
Where the crags/cliffs resound.

To listen click here: