The history of Mzansi’s national anthem

Our national anthem is a testament to our status as a rainbow nation but do we actually know where the soundtrack of our country actually came from? We’re here to break it down for you and show you the history behind our great anthem.
Submitted by:
0 Votes
Share this on

According to The Economist, South Africa has the most popular national anthem in the world and rightfully so.


This vibrant and colourful song is a testament to our status as a rainbow nation but do we actually know where the soundtrack of our country actually came from? We’re here to break it down for you and show you the history behind our great anthem.


Prior to 1997, when the anthem in its current form was adopted, two anthems existed and were divided along racial lines. On the one hand, Enoch Sontonga’s Nkosi Sikelel’iAfrika (God Bless Africa) was used as an anti-Apartheid anthem and was popular among the black population of the country.


On the other hand, white South Africans sang Die Stem van Suid Afrika (The Call of South Africa) and had been using the song unofficially since the 1920s, before it was adopted as South Africa’s official anthem in 1957.


In 1997, the two anthems were combined to reflect Mzansi’s multi-racial status while functioning as a tool to encourage national unity. Employing five of the most populous of South Africa’s eleven official languages, the new anthem was arranged, jointly, by Mzilikazi Khumalo and Jeanne Zaidel-Rudolph. The latter of which also wrote the English portion of the current anthem.


The lyrics start with Nkosi Sikelel’iAfrika in Xhosa, followed by Zulu, Sesotho, a few lines of Die Stem van Suid Afrika sung in Afrikaans and then finished with an English stanza.


Unique in several ways, the South African national anthem is one of only three neo-modal anthems across the globe and is a true testament to our individuality as a nation.


Follow the Anthem Project here.


Upload your own stirring national Anthem rendition here and stand a chance to be able to donate R1 million in cash and prizes to the charity of your choice. A feel-good moment all round! 

#AnthemProject - A News24 initiative made possible by OUTsurance