The National anthem of South Africa

The South African national anthem, adopted in 1997, is a unique composition that blends elements from the 19th-century Xhosa hymn “Nkosi Sikelel’ iAfrika” (English: “God Bless Africa”) with the Afrikaans song “Die Stem van Suid-Afrika” (English: “The Voice of South Africa”), which was used as the national anthem during the apartheid era. The anthem features new English lyrics and is commonly known by its opening words, “Nkosi Sikelel’ iAfrika,” although this phrase is not its official title.

The committee responsible for this innovative creation 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 official title of the anthem is simply “National Anthem of South Africa.”

Also known as“Nkosi Sikelel’ iAfrika” (first segment) (English: “Lord Bless Africa”)
“Die Stem van Suid-Afrika” (second segment) (English: “The Call of South Africa”)
LyricsEnoch Sontonga, 1897
Cornelis Jacobus Langenhoven, 1918
Jeanne Zaidel-Rudolph, 1995
MusicEnoch Sontonga, 1897
Marthinus Lourens de Villiers, 1921 (arranged by Mzilikazi Khumalo and Jeanne Zaidel-Rudolph, 1995)
Preceded by“Die Stem van Suid-Afrika” and “Nkosi Sikelel’ iAfrika”


During the period of apartheid in South Africa (late 1940s to early 1990s), the national anthem was “Die Stem van Suid-Afrika,” an Afrikaans song glorifying the Voortrekkers’ “Great Trek.” When apartheid ended, questions arose about the anthem’s future. Eventually, it was retained alongside “Nkosi Sikelel’ iAfrika,” a Xhosa song from the anti-apartheid movement. Both were adopted as dual national anthems in 1994.

Both anthems were performed for the 1995 Rugby World Cup, but the practice was cumbersome. In 1997, the anthems were merged into the current national anthem, with English lyrics adapted from “Die Stem van Suid-Afrika.” Nelson Mandela requested it be under 1 minute 48 seconds. The lyrics were modified for inclusivity, removing references to specific groups and religious terms. The new anthem debuted in February 1997, symbolizing hope in post-apartheid South Africa.


In recent times, the South African national anthem has faced criticism, particularly directed at its Afrikaans verse, which was originally part of the anthem used during the apartheid era. Some, including the Economic Freedom Fighters, advocate for removing this verse due to its historical association. Conversely, defenders argue that the inclusion of the verse aligns with the intentions of Nelson Mandela, the first post-apartheid South African president, who sought its incorporation as a reconciliatory gesture for the nation’s post-apartheid future.


ZuluiNgoma-Yesizwe yaseNingizimu Afrika
XhosauMhobe weSizwe waseMzantsi Afrika
AfrikaansVolkslied van Suid-Afrika
SwaziUmlandvo we Ngoma yeSive yase Ningizimu Afrika
SesothoPina ya Naha ya Afrika Borwa
SetswanaPina ya Bosetšhaba ya Afrika Borwa
XitsongaMatimu ya Risimu ra Rixaka ra Afrika
VendaḒivhazwakale ya Limbo lwa Lushaka lwa Afrika Tshipembe
Southern NdebeleZimu Busisa i-Afrika
Nkosi Sikelel’ iAfrika
(God Bless Africa)
Maluphakanyisw’ uphondo lwayo,
(Raise high Her glory)
Yizwa imithandazo yethu,
(Hear our Prayers)
Nkosi sikelela, thina lusapho lwayo
(God bless us, we her children)
isiXhosa and isiZulu
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)
Uit die blou van onse hemel,
(Ringing out from our blue heavens)
Uit die diepte van ons see,
(From the depth of our seas)
Oor ons ewige gebergtes,
(Over our everlasting mountains)
Waar die kranse antwoord gee,
(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.

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