Full Lyrics Of South Africa's National Anthem - The Call of South Africa
"The Call of South Africa" - Full lyrics of South Africa National Anthem

The National Anthem of South Africa was adopted in 1997 and is a hybrid song combining new English with extracts of the 19th century hymn "Nkosi Sikelel' iAfrika" (English: "God Bless Africa", lit. '"Lord Bless Africa"') and the Afrikaans song "Die Stem van Suid-Afrika" (English: "The Call of South Africa"), which was used as the South African national anthem from the late 1930s to the mid-1990s. The committee responsible for this new composition included Anna Bender, Elize Botha, Richard Cock, Dolf Havemann (Secretary), Mzilikazi Khumalo (Chairman), Masizi Kunene, John Lenake, Fatima Meer, Khabi Mngoma, Wally Serote, Johan de Villiers, and Jeanne Zaidel-Rudolph.

The anthem is often referred to by its incipit of "Nkosi Sikelel' iAfrika", but this has never been its official title, which is simply "National Anthem of South Africa".

Full lyrics of South Africa's National Anthem in different versions

The first is the African National Congress’ official anthem, ‘Nkosi Sikelel’ iAfrika (Lord, Bless Africa)’.

The second is ‘Die Stem van Suid-Afrika (The Call of South Africa)’, which was the country’s national anthem during Apartheid.

When South Africa won the Rugby World Cup back in 1995, the powers that be officially decided to acknowledge both songs as national anthems.

The anthems were played alongside each other at the tournament, and two years later, they merged into one song.

‘Nkosi Sikelel' iAfrika (The Call of South Africa)’

Nkosi Sikelel' iAfrika (Xhosa)

Maluphakanyisw' uphondo lwayo (Xhosa)

Yizwa imithandazo yethu, (Zulu)

Nkosi sikelela, thina lusapho Iwayo. (Zulu)

Morena boloka setjhaba sa heso, (Sesotho)

O fedise dintwa le matshwenyeho, (Sesotho)

O se boloke, O se boloke setjhaba sa heso, (Sesotho)

Setjhaba sa, South Afrika, South Afrika. (Sesotho)

‘Die Stem van Suid-Afrika (Lord, Bless Africa)’

Uit die blou van onse hemel, (Afrikaans)

Uit die diepte van ons see, (Afrikaans)

Oor ons ewige gebergtes, (Afrikaans)

Waar die kranse antwoord gee, (Afrikaans)

Sounds the call to come together,

And united we shall stand,

Let us live and strive for freedom

In South Africa our land.

What are the lyrics translated into English?

Lord bless Africa

May her glory be lifted high,

Hear our petitions

Lord bless us, your children.

Lord we ask You to protect our nation,

Intervene and end all conflicts,

Protect us, protect our nation,

Protect South Africa, South Africa.

Out of the blue of our heavens,

From 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.

Watch the full lyrics video of South Africa's National Anthem below

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 lyrics are sung in these languages regardless of the native language of the singer. The first half was arranged by Mzilikazi Khumalo and the latter half of the song was arranged by Jeanne Zaidel-Rudolph, who also wrote the final verse. The fact that it shifts (modulates) and ends in a different key (from G major to D major), a feature it shares with the Italian and the Philippine national anthems, makes it compositionally unusual.

South Africa's National Anthem: History

From the late 1940s to the early 1990s, South Africa was governed by a system known as apartheid, a widely condemned system of institutionalized racial segregation and discrimination that was based on white supremacy and the repression of the black majority for the benefit of the politically and economically dominant Afrikaner minority and other whites. During this period, South Africa's national anthem was "Die Stem van Suid-Afrika", also known as "Die Stem", an Afrikaans language song that chronicled the Voortrekkers and their "Great Trek". "Die Stem" is a poem written by C. J. Langenhoven in 1918 and was set to music by Marthinus Lourens de Villiers in 1921. "Die Stem" (English: "The voice of South Africa") was the co-national anthem 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 Voice of South Africa") was composed of eight stanzas (The original four in Afrikaans and four in English - a translation of the Afrikaans with a few modifications). It was seldom sung in its entirety; usually, the first stanza was the most widely known and sung sometimes followed by the last stanza.

When apartheid came to an end in the early 1990s, the future of "Die Stem van Suid-Afrika" was called into question.

It was ultimately retained as the national anthem, though "Nkosi Sikelel' iAfrika", a Xhosa language song that was used by the anti-apartheid movement, was also introduced and adopted as a second national anthem of equal standing. "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.

The South African government adopted both songs as dual national anthems in 1994, when they were performed at Nelson Mandela's inauguration.

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.

Freedom Day (South Africa)

Freedom Day is a public holiday in South Africa celebrated on 27 April. It celebrates freedom and commemorates the first post-apartheid elections held on that day in 1994. The elections were the first non-racial national elections where everyone of voting age of over 18 from any race group, including foreign citizens permanently resident in South Africa, were allowed to vote. Previously, under the apartheid regime, non-whites in general had only limited rights to vote while black South Africans had no voting rights whatsoever.

It is part of the twelve public holidays determined by the Public Holidays Act (No. 36 of 1994).

On the first commemoration of the holiday, President Nelson Mandela addressed Parliament:

As a new dawn ushered in this day, the 27th of April 1994, few of us could suppress the welling of emotion, as we were reminded of the terrible past from which we come as a nation; the great possibilities that we now have; and the bright future that beckons us. And so we assemble here today, and in other parts of the country, to mark a historic day in the life of our nation. Wherever South Africans are across the globe, our hearts beat as one, as we renew our common loyalty to our country and our commitment to its future.

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