Sunday, June 14, 2015

Nkosi Sikelel' i Afrika

this stamp set commemorates the writer and the song
South Africa's national anthem is, like the country itself, complicated.
The anthem comprises 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).
During the transition to post-apartheid South Africa, both 'Die Stem van Suid-Afrika' (Call of South Africa) and Nkosi Sikelel 'iAfrika (God Bless Africa) shared equal status and were sung, which was rather cumbersome. By 1997, a hybrid version of the two was introduced.
Enoch Sontonga (1873-1905) was a Xhosa teacher and choirmaster at a Methodist Mission School. He composed the music and wrote the lyrics of the first verse and chorus in 1897. It was originally intended as a church hymn but was adopted as an anthem at political meetings, sung as an act of defiance. By 1925 it was the anthem of the ANC. Versions of the hymn also later became the national anthems of Zambia, Tanzania, Namibia, and Zimbabwe after independence, though new anthems were eventually adopted for all those countries with the exception of Tanzania which still has a Swahili version as their anthem.

Is this truly not the world's most beautiful anthem?

Apparently there are many versions as there is no standard translation and the words may vary from place to place and from occasion to occasion.

English translation
italics for God Bless Africa, non-italics for The Call of South Africa
(listen closely and you can definitely hear the chord change)
God bless Africa
May her glory be lifted high

Hear our petitions
God bless us, Your children
God we ask You to protect our nation
Intervene and end all conflicts
Protect us, protect our nation, our nation, 

South Africa
South Africa!
Ringing out from our blue heavens,
From our deep seas breaking round,
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!

See more of making music at Sunday Stamps II


  1. Yes I agree a beautiful anthem so harmonious. Didn't know it was in different languages.

    1. the languages do flow very well together, don't they?!

  2. Great stamps and info. I had no idea that there was no clear official version of the anthem.

    1. I guess with so many languages and translations that can easily happen.

  3. Beautiful lyrics and nice melody. I love the stamps. The eyes are so haunting.

    1. The eyes ... I was too fascinated with that skinny moustache to notice!!

  4. Hello Violetsky! I do miss bloghopping for postcards and stamps posts too!

    But yes, work is taking much of my time lately. I do my best to still share a postcard every time I have a chance.

    I'm glad you popped by my page and left a comment. I usually still visit Sunday Stamps participants to look at the posts even though more often than not, I don't have enough time to leave a comment.

    1. Good to hear from you. I understand about being busy. visit and participate when you can.

  5. A stirring anthem. I think this is the first time I have listened to it properly.

    1. Same here!
      I like the words - they are appropriate and not like a battle hymn as many are.

  6. Replies
    1. It is. I like a good back story to a anthem.


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