South Africa’s Anthem: five different languages in the same song


It’s not like there are five different linguistic versions of South Africa’s anthem, but there may be. However, since 1997, the Rainbow Nation’s official anthem has been a five-language lyrical arrangement, making it the world’s most unique anthem in this respect.

Xhosa, Zulu, Sesotho, Afrikaans, and English are the five languages in the anthem.

Having too much cultural variation may only be for the reason of capitalizing on disparities’ strengths. And it seems that the 12-member committee in charge of the anthem’s development took this into consideration. This vision was stated in the committee’s founding letter, which Nelson Mandela signed.

South Africa’s native Black cultures are diverse and numerous. The nation has eleven official languages, nine of which are African in origin. These distinctions are also a reality, and the apartheid government did all it could to create a white-dominated and separate state.

The Xhosa term ‘Nkosi Sikelel’ iAfrika, which translates to Lord Bless Africa, is used to refer to South Africa’s national anthem. The name comes from a hymn written by Enoch Sontonga, a Methodist clergyman from Xhosa, in 1897. That, though, is not the whole story of the anthem.


The anthem is primarily made up of two songs: ‘Nkosi Sikelel’ iAfrika and Die Stem van Suid-Afrika – The Call of South Africa, a 1930s apartheid-era anthem. South Africa used all anthems from 1994 until 1997.


Nkosi Sikelel’ iAfrika was an anthem in protest against white-minority rule and apartheid for a long time. The African National Congress (ANC) adopted it in 1912, and it has since become synonymous with African nationalism in South Africa and southern Africa. Apart from South Africa, Nkosi Sikelel’ iAfrika was the national anthem of Namibia, Zambia, and Zimbabwe, with a Swahili version currently in use in Tanzania.

When Nkosi Sikelel’ iAfrika and Die Stem van Suid-Afrika married, they added a few more verses in other languages, leaving South Africans with the following:

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)

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.



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