South African National Anthem

History of South Africa Anthem

The Republic of South Africa would have two national anthems, according to a proclamation made on April 20, 1994, by the (then) State President in accordance with Sections 248 (1) and 2 of the Constitution of the Republic of South Africa, 1993 (Act 200 of 1993). They were The Call of South Africa and Nkosi Sikelel’ iAfrika (Die Stem van Suid-Afrika). A condensed, combined version of Nkosi Sikelel’ iAfrika and The Call of South Africa is now the country’s national anthem in accordance with Section 4 of the Constitution of South Africa, 1996 (Act 108 of 1996) and a proclamation published in the Government Gazette No. 18341 (dated 10 October 1997), respectively.

The Call of South Africa (Die Stem van Suid-Afrika)

CJ Langenhoven composed a poem titled Die Stem van Suid-Afrika in May 1918. The Reverend ML de Villiers wrote the music in 1921.

The audience became accustomed to it since the South African Broadcasting Corporation played both God save the King and Die Stem to end their regular broadcasts. The song was first heard in public at the raising of the South African flag on May 31, 1928, in Cape Town, but it wasn’t until May 2, 1957 that the government declared Die Stem to be the country’s official anthem.

The government also acquired the copyright in the same year, and a parliamentary act in 1959 reaffirmed this. The Call of South Africa, the country’s official anthem, was approved for official use in 1952.

Nkosi Sikelel’ iAfrika

A Methodist mission school teacher named Enoch Sontonga wrote Nkosi Sikelel’ iAfrika in 1897. The opening stanza’s lyrics were initially intended to be a hymn written in Xhosa. Samuel Mqhayi, the poet, later added seven more stanzas to Xhoza. Moses Mphahlele released a Sesotho rendition in 1942. Reverend JL Dube’s Ohlange Zulu Choir gave concerts in Johannesburg that helped make Nkosi Sikelel’ iAfrika more well-known. It gained popularity as a church hymn and was afterwards used as the anthem during political gatherings. The song was performed as a show of resistance during the Apartheid era. Usually, the Sesotho version is performed after the Xhosa or Zulu rendition of the opening stanza. There doesn’t appear to be a standard translation or rendition of Nkosi, and the words change depending on the context and the occasion.


This is the official version of the national anthem, combining Nkosi Sikelel’ iAfrika and Die Stem/The Call of South Africa, with a translation in English given in brackets:

South African National Anthem

Nkosi Sikelel’ iAfrika
(God Bless Africa)
Maluphakanyisw’ uphondo lwayo,
(Raise high Her glory)
Yizwa imithandazo yethu,
(Hear our Prayers)
Nkosi sikelela, thina lusapho lwayo
(God bless us, we her children)

isiXhosa and isiZulu

Morena boloka setjhaba sa heso,
(God protect our nation)
O fedise dintwa le matshwenyeho,
(End all wars and tribulations)
O se boloke, O se boloke setjhaba sa heso,
(Protect us, protect our nation)
Setjhaba sa South Afrika – South Afrika.
(Our nation South Africa – South Africa)


Uit die blou van onse hemel,
(Ringing out from our blue heavens)
Uit die diepte van ons see,
(From the depth of our seas)
Oor ons ewige gebergtes,
(Over our everlasting mountains)
Waar die kranse antwoord gee,
(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.



Sheet music

Please note that the sheet music is in [PDF] format.

Listen to South African Anthem

Click here

Protocol on respecting the National Anthem

  • The National Anthem should be recited with appropriate respect.
  • All should stand to attention with their hands placed at their sides while singing the South African National Anthem.
  • Civilians hats should be off as a sign of respect.
  • BROWNELL, FG, National Symbols of the Republic of South Africa. 1995. Johannesburg: Chris van Rensburg Publications.
  • Department of Foreign Affairs and Information. 1983. South Africa 1983: Official Yearbook of the Republic of South Africa. 9th ed. Johannesburg: Chris van Rensburg Publications.
  • Republic of South Africa.1994. Government Gazette, No 15694 of 1994. Pretoria: Government Printer.
  • Republic of South Africa.1995. Government Gazette, No 1658 of 1995. Pretoria: Government Printer
  • Republic of South Africa.1997. Government Gazette, No 18341 of 1997. Pretoria: Government Printer.
  • South African Communication Service. 1993. South Africa 1993: Official Yearbook of the Republic of South Africa. 19th ed. Pretoria: South African Communication Service.

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