South Africa must have one of the world’s most extraordinary national anthems. The music was originally composed in 1897 by Enoch Mankayi as N'kosi Sikelel' iAfrica (God Bless Africa) for Manyaki’s music students. It became the liberation anthem across the continent, a potent symbol of the struggle against apartheid and is now also the national anthem of both Tanzania and Zimbabwe.
When power was handed over to majority rule in 1994, the government faced a problem. Die Stem van Suid-Afrika, a poem written by CJ Langenhoven in 1918 set to music by Rev. Marthinus Lourens de Villiers in 1921, had shared honours as the national anthem from 1936-57 and been the sole anthem ever since. To the Afrikaaners, it was as potent a symbol as N'kosi Sikelel' iAfrica was to the black community. The new government solved the problem in a typically lateral fashion, combining the words and music of both – and with an added twist – making the official version of the national anthem multi-lingual. It includes the five largest of South Africa’s 11 official languages – Zulu, Xhosa, Sotho, Afrikaans and English. It was adopted officially in 1997.
(Xhosa) Nkosi sikelel' iAfrika
God Bless Africa
Maluphakanyisw' uphondo lwayo,
Raise high Her glory
(Zulu) Yizwa imithandazo yethu
Hear our Prayers
Nkosi sikelela, thina lusapho lwayo.
God bless us, we her children
(Sotho) Morena boloka setjhaba sa heso,
God protect our nation
O fedise dintwa le matshwenyeho,
End all wars and tribulations
O se boloke, O se boloke setjhaba sa heso
Protect us, protect our nation
Setjhaba sa, South Afrika - South Afrika.
Our nation South Africa - South Africa
(Afrikaans) Uit die blou van onse hemel,
From the blue of our heaven
Uit die diepte van ons see,
From the depths of our sea,
Oor ons ewige gebergtes,
Over our eternal mountain ranges
Waar die kranse antwoord gee,
Where the cliffs give answer
(English) Sounds the call to come together,
And united we shall stand,
Let us live and strive for freedom,
In South Africa our land.