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Josiah Ramirez
Josiah Ramirez

South African National Anthem

A proclamation issued by the then State President, Nelson Mandela, on 20 April 1994 in terms of the provisions of Section 248 (1) together with Section 2 of the Constitution of the Republic of South Africa, 1993 (Act 200 of 1993), stated that the Republic of South Africa would have two national anthems. They were Nkosi Sikelel' iAfrika and The Call of South Africa (Die Stem van Suid-Afrika). In terms of Section 4 of the Constitution of South Africa, 1996 (Act 108 of 1996), and following a proclamation in the Government Gazette No. 18341 (dated 10 October 1997), a shortened, combined version of Nkosi Sikelel' iAfrika and The Call of South Africa is now the national anthem of South Africa.

South African National Anthem


It is the only neo-modal national anthem in the world, by virtue of being the only one that starts in one key and finishes in another. The lyrics employ the five most populous of South Africa's eleven official languages - isiXhosa (first stanza, first two lines), isiZulu (first stanza, last two lines), seSotho (second stanza), Afrikaans (third stanza) and English (final stanza).

In South Africa, we have a perse number of people and cultures, but we are all South African. National symbols such as a national flag, an anthem and a coat of arms unite the people of a country and make them proud to be a part of that country and all its achievements.

After South Africa became a democracy in 1994, it also needed a new national anthem. A national anthem is a song that represents the country and its traditions and history. The new anthem is made up of two different anthems and is sung in five different languages.

For centuries a national anthem has been a symbolic representation of a nation with its deep roots to the culture, people and language. For an athlete, hearing the national anthem played can be a proud moment.

Protocol dictates all should stand to attention with their hands placed at their sides while singing the national anthem. However, the president is the only one allowed to place his or her palm on the heart.

Some of the most popular places the anthem can be played or sung are government offices, schools and colleges; sports and cultural events; and special occasions or national holidays, according to Rajendran Govender, director at Kwa-Zulu Natal Department of Arts and Culture.

Under The Prevention of Insults to National Honour Act, 1971 people can be imprisoned for up to three years, face a fine or suffer both penalties if they intentionally show disrespect to the national anthem or burn, mutilate, deface, defile the Indian flag. According to, only recently the anthem has begun being played before sporting events.

According to no one is required to sing along or act in a certain manner when the national anthem is being played. However, Italians are required to stand and show respect to any national anthem.

According to the Australian Government website when the Queen is in Australia, the royal anthem is played at the beginning of an official engagement and the Australian national anthem is played at the end. On some occasions, it may be appropriate to play both at the beginning of the engagement.

The Western Cape Department of Cultural Affairs and Sport (DCAS) entered into a partnership venture with Voices of Cape Town to assist citizens to sing the national anthem with pride. This initiative was guided by Lungile Jacobs, a renowned musician, composer and former member of the Western Cape Cultural Commission. The National Anthem was proclaimed in 1997 as a shortened, combined version of two anthems (Nkosi Sikelel' iAfrika and The Call of South Africa/Die Stem van Suid-Afrika). It is unique in that it has stanzas in four languages. This demonstrates the tireless desire South Africa has to reconcile and promote national unity.

Die Stem van Suid-Afrika is a poem written by CJ Langenhoven in May 1918, with music composed in 1921 by Rev ML de Villiers. It was first sung publicly at the official hoisting of the national flag in Cape Town on 31 May 1928, but it was not until 2 May 1957 that the government pronounced Die Stem as the official national anthem. In 1952, the official English version, The Call of South Africa, was accepted for official use.

The national anthem of democratic South Africa merges Nkosi Sikelel' iAfrika and Die Stem and was arranged by Mzilikazi Khumalo and D de Villiers. It was officially proclaimed in the Government Gazette (no. 18341 of 10 October 1997).

Our national anthem speaks of a united and democratic South Africa. A country with a forward-looking Constitution; a country that provides its citizens with an ever expanding base of opportunities. The national anthem gives South Africans a sense of common identity and promotes national pride, social inclusion and reconciliation. 041b061a72


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