The Multilingual South African National Anthem

The national anthem of South Africa has since 1997 been considered to be a hybrid song as it combines 5 of the most widespread spoken languages of the country’s 11 official languages.


The first stanza comprised of Xhosa and Zulu

The second stanza  – Sesotho

The third stanza – Afrikaans

The fourth stanza – English


What makes this anthem evidently unusual is that it begins in one key and ends in another, mostly influenced by: Nkosi Sikelel’ iAfrika, A popular church hymn which means God Bless Africa and Die Stem an Afrikaans poem written by C.J. Langenhoven

The two have been married to form what is today South Africa’s National anthem and was learnt by each member of the Springbok Rugby team who sang the heartfelt anthem at the 1995 Rugby World Cup – A major iconic moment which united all South Africans who were lucky to witness the Springboks bring home the Cup that year.

The SA National Anthem:

(Xhosa & Zulu)
Nkosi sikelel’ Afrika Maluphakanyisw’
uphondo lwayo, Yizwa imithandazo yethu,
Nkosi sikelela, thina lusapho lwayo.

Morena boloka setjhaba sa heso,
O fedise dintwa le matshwenyeho,
O se boloke, O se boloke setjhaba sa heso,
Setjhaba sa South Afrika – South Afrika.

Uit die blou van onse hemel,
Uit die diepte van ons see,
Oor ons ewige gebergtes,
Waar die kranse antwoord gee,

Sounds the call to come together,
And united we shall stand,
Let us live and strive for freedom,
In South Africa our land.

English Translation:

Lord bless Africa
May her glory be lifted high
Hear our petitions
Lord bless us, your children

Lord we ask You to protect our nation
Intervene and end all conflicts
Protect us, protect our nation
Protect South Africa, South Africa

Out of the blue of our heavens
Out of the depths of our seas
Over our everlasting mountains
Where the echoing crags resound

The 1995 Rugby World Cup

  1. Hi Shakeela…thank you for sharing this. I recall when I was living in SA and working with the kids; I learned the National Anthem. I loved it…and still do. It is indeed a very unique beautiful anthem and the music is at some point mesmerizing and intense ( I believe for me and all SAfricans!!!)

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Our Correspondent
Cult South Africa correspondent
Shakeela - Cape Town

Born in Johannesburg, lived in East London, grew up in Port Elizabeth and living in Cape Town for ten years now, I love to think of myself as an all round South African! I received my BA Degree in Motion Picture in 2010 ...

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Continent: Africa
Capital: Pretoria
Population: 49,000,000
Area: 1,219,912 km2
Currency: Rand
Languages: English, Afrikaans

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