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Nkosi Sikelel' iAfrika

Nkosi Sikelel' iAfrika
English: Lord Bless Africa

National anthem of  South Africa

Lyrics Enoch Sontonga, 1897
Music Enoch Sontonga, 1897
Adopted 1961 (Tanzania)
1963 (Transkei)
1994 (South Africa)
Music sample

"Nkosi Sikelel' iAfrika" ("Lord Bless Africa" in Xhosa), was originally composed as a hymn in 1897 by Enoch Sontonga, a Xhosa clergyman at a Methodist mission school near Johannesburg. The song became a pan-African liberation anthem and was later adopted as the national anthem of five countries in Africa including Zambia, Tanzania, Namibia and Zimbabwe after independence. Zimbabwe and Namibia have since adopted new national anthems. The song is currently the national anthem of Tanzania and, since 1994, a portion of the national anthem of South Africa.


  • History 1
  • Current national anthem 2
    • South Africa 2.1
    • Tanzania 2.2
  • Retired national anthem 3
    • Zambia 3.1
    • Zimbabwe 3.2
    • Namibia 3.3
  • Other countries and organisations 4
  • Lyrics 5
    • Original 5.1
    • Current 5.2
  • Recordings 6
  • See also 7
  • References 8
  • External links 9


Nkosi Sikelel' iAfrika was originally composed as a

  • Nkosi Sikelel' iAfrika lyrics at the African National Congress (ANC)
  • Thomasmesse Iserlohn (#18: Nkosi sikelel' i Afrika, mp3 sung by a German church choir)
  • History of Nkosi Sikelel' iAfrika
  • BBC Rhythms of the Continent: Nkosi Sikelel' iAfrika in kwaito style

External links

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See also

It has also been recorded by Paul Simon and Miriam Makeba, Ladysmith Black Mambazo, Boom Shaka, Osibisa, Oliver Mtukudzi (the Shona version that was once the anthem of Zimbabwe) and the Mahotella Queens. Boom Shaka, a prominent South African kwaito group,formed the anthem in kwaito style, a popular South African genre influenced by house music. The interpretation was controversial, and it was viewed by some as a commercial subversion of the anthem; Boom Shaka counter by stating that their version represents liberation and introduces the song to younger listeners.

In Kenya, Mang'u High School uses a translation, Mungu Ibariki Mang'u High, as its school anthem.

Solomon Plaatje, one of South Africa's greatest writers and a founding member of the ANC, was the first to have the song recorded in London, 1923. A Sotho version was published in 1942 by Moses Mphahlele. Rev. John Langalibalele Dube's Ohlange Zulu Choir popularised the hymn at concerts in Johannesburg, and it became a popular church hymn that was also adopted as the anthem at political meetings.


Xhosa and Zulu English
Nkosi sikelel' iAfrika
Maluphakanyisw' uphondo lwayo
Yiva imithandazo yethu
Nkosi Sikelela Nkosi Sikelela

Nkosi sikelel' iAfrika
Maluphakanyisw' uphondo lwayo
Yizwa imithandazo yethu
Nkosi Sikelela
Thina lusapho lwayo.


Yihla moya, yihla moya
Yihla moya oyingcwele
Nkosi Sikelela
Thina lusapho lwayo.

Lord, bless Africa
May her spirit rise high up
Hear thou our prayers
Lord bless us, Lord bless us.

Lord, bless Africa
May her spirit rise high up
Hear thou our prayers
Lord bless us
Your family.


Descend, O Spirit
Descend, O Holy Spirit
Lord bless us
Your family.



Xhosa English
Nkosi sikelel' iAfrika
Maluphakanyis' uphondo lwayo
Yiva imithandazo yethu
Nkosi sikelela, Thina lusapho lwayo


Yehla Moya, Yehla Moya,
Yehla Moya Oyingcwele
Lord, bless Africa
May her horn rise high up
Hear Thou our prayers
And bless us.


Descend, O Spirit
Descend, O Holy Spirit



In Finland the same melody is used as the children's psalm Kuule Isä Taivaan (Hear, Heavenly Father). The first part of the hymn has appeared in the hymnbook of the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Finland since 1985 with lyrics by Jaakko Löytty.

In other African countries throughout southern Africa, the song was sung as part of the anti-colonial movements. It includes versions in Chichewa (Malawi and Zambia). Outside of Africa, the hymn is perhaps best known as the long-time (since 1925) anthem of the African National Congress (ANC), as a result of the global anti-Apartheid movement of the 1970s and 1980s, when it was regularly sung at meetings and other events.

Other countries and organisations

"Nkosi Sikelel' iAfrika" was used provisionally as the national anthem of Namibia at time of the country's independence in March 1990. But soon after, an official contest was organized for a new national anthem. It was won by Axali Doeseb, who wrote "Namibia, Land of the Brave" which was officially adopted on the first anniversary of the country's independence on 21 March 1990.


It was replaced in 1994 by Kalibusiswe Ilizwe leZimbabwe (Blessed be the land of Zimbabwe), but still remains very popular in the country.

'Ishe Komborera Africa' was the Zimbabwean version of 'God Bless Africa' sung in the Shona and Ndebele languages and was its first national anthem, adopted after the country gained independence in 1980.


The hymn was the national anthem of Zambia from independence in 1964 until 1973 when the lyrics were replaced by Stand and Sing of Zambia, Proud and Free set to the same hymn tune of Aberystwyth.[7]


Retired national anthem

A Swahili version of the hymn (Mungu ibariki Afrika) is the national anthem of Tanzania.


In 1994 after the fall of apartheid, the new President of South Africa Nelson Mandela declared that both "Nkosi Sikelel' iAfrika" and the previous national anthem, "Die Stem van Suid-Afrika" ("The Call of South Africa") would be national anthems. While the inclusion of "Nkosi Sikelel' iAfrika" celebrated the newfound freedom of many South Africans, the fact that "Die Stem" was also kept as an anthem even after the fall of apartheid, signified to all that the new government under Mandela respected all races and cultures and that an all-inclusive new era was dawning upon South Africa. In 1996, a shortened, combined version of the two anthems was released as the new national anthem of South Africa under the constitution of South Africa. The anthem uses several of the official languages of South Africa. The first two lines of the first stanza are sung in Xhosa and the last two in Zulu. The second stanza is sung in Sesotho. The third stanza consists of a section of the original South African national anthem, Die Stem van Suid-Afrika, and is sung in Afrikaans. The fourth and final stanza, sung in English, is also based on Die Stem van Suid-Afrika.

South Africa

Current national anthem

[6] regime it was considered by many to be the unofficial national anthem of South Africa, representing the suffering of the oppressed. Because of its connection to the ANC, the song was banned by the regime during the apartheid era.apartheid For decades during the [5].anti-apartheid movement during the apartheid era and was a symbol of the African National Congress The song was the official anthem for the [4] "Nkosi Sikelel' iAfrika" was first published in 1927.[4]

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