The official version of the current national anthem, combines "Nkosi sikelel' iAfrika" and "Die Stem" / "The Call of South Africa"

( 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.)

The anthem History

Nkosi sikelel' iAfrika
Maluphakanyisw' uphondo lwayo,
Yizwa imithandazo yethu,
Nkosi sikelela, thina lusapho lwayo.


Nkosi Sikelel iAfrika was composed in 1897 by Enoch Sontonga, a Methodist mission school teacher. The words of the first stanza were originally written in Xhosa as a hymn. Seven additional stanzas in Xhoza were later added by the poet, Samuel Mqhayi. A Sesotho version was published by Moses Mphahlele in 1942.

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.


The first stanza is generally sung in Xhosa or Zulu followed by the Sesotho version. Apparently there is no standard version or translations of Nkosi and the words vary from place to place and from occasion to occasion.

Nkosi Sikelel iAfrika was popularised at concerts held in Johannesburg by Reverend JL Dube's Ohlange Zulu Choir. It became a popular church hymn that was later adopted as an anthem at political meetings. It was sung as an act of defiance during the apartheid years. 


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


Die "Stem van Suid-Afrika" is a poem written by CJ Langenhoven in May 1918. The music was composed by the Reverend ML de Villiers in 1921.

The South African Broadcasting Corporation played both God save the King and Die Stem to close their daily broadcasts and the public became familiar with it.

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 Government made the announcement that Die Stem had been accepted as the official national anthem of South Africa. In the same year Government also acquired the copyright and this was confirmed by Act of Parliament in 1959.

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



In 1952 the official English version of the national anthem, the Call of South Africa was accepted for official use.

Back to Top   /   Home