Nkosi Sikelel’ iAfrika was composed in 1897 by Enoch Sontonga, a teacher at a Methodist mission school in Johannesburg. It was one of many songs he composed, and he was apparently a keen singer who composed the songs for his pupils.
For decades Nkosi Sikelel’ iAfrika was regarded as the national anthem of South Afrika by the oppressed and it was always sung as an act of defiance against the apartheid regime. A proclamation issued by the State President on 20 April 1994 stipulated that both Nkosi Sikelel’ iAfrika and Die Stem (the Call of South Africa) would be the national anthems of South Africa. In 1996 a shortened, combined version of the two anthems was released as the new National Anthem.
There are no standard versions or translations of Nkosi Sikelel’ iAfrika so the words vary from place to place and from occasion to occasion. Generally the first stanza is sung in Xhosa or Zulu, followed by the Sesotho version.
This is the official version of the national anthem, combining
Nkosi sikelel’ iAfrika and Die Stem / The Call of South Africa
Nkosi sikelel’ iAfrika
Maluphakanyisw’ uphondo lwayo,
Yizwa imithandazo yethu,
Nkosi sikelela, thina lusapho lwayo.
Morena boloka setjhaba sa heso,
O fedise dintwa la 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.