The year 2017 ended on a positive note when South Africa’s national anthem, ‘Nkosi Sikelel’ iAfrika’, was voted the world’s best national anthem in a poll conducted among readers of the respected international magazine, The Economist.
The magazine noted that the lyrics were taken mainly from the classic struggle hymn in Xhosa, Zulu and Sesotho, but combined them with Afrikaans and English from the country’s previous national anthem in an act of musical healing for the Rainbow nation.
Two national anthems one country, the then official anthem and a representation of an oppressive system of governance apartheid .
Initially written as an Afrikaans poem Die Stem was composed by the Reverend Marthinus de Villiers in 1921.
It was sung in both English and Afrikaans and was adopted as the official national anthem from 1957.
The other Nkosi Sikelela was a symbol of independence and resistance to apartheid, sung by the majority black population and at all anti-apartheid rallies and gatherings.
In 1897 a Methodist reverend Enoch Sontonga composed the hymn Nkosi Sikelel’ I Afrika.
The song became a pan-African liberation anthem and was later adopted as the national anthem of five countries in Africa including Zambia, Tanzania, Namibia and Zimbabwe after independence.
Zimbabwe and Namibia have since adopted new national anthems.
The dawn of democracy in 1994, saw a fusion of certain parts of the two anthems, as a symbol of unity in a country that was once segregated.
Last week ‘Nkosi Sikelel’ iAfrika’, was voted the world’s best national anthem in a poll conducted among readers of the respected international magazine, The Economist.
However, South Africans have mixed reactions to the news.
Many will not forget Raas Dumisane’s worst performance of the national anthem during a rugby match in France in 2009.
South Africa's Nkosi Sikelel' iAfrika has been voted as the best national anthem by the Economist magazine. Do you agree?
— SABC News Online (@SABCNewsOnline) December 28, 2017