South Africa’s national anthem: what are the lyrics and why are there two separate songs?

1 November 2019, 14:10 | Updated: 1 November 2019, 14:31

South Africa Rugby World Cup 2019
South Africa Rugby World Cup 2019. Picture: PA Images

By Sian Hamer

The Springboks will be facing England in the final of the Rugby World Cup 2019 on Saturday – but what is their national anthem?

South Africa’s national anthem, often referred to as ‘Nkosi Sikelel’ iAfrika’, is actually comprised of two separate songs.

The first is the African National Congress’ official anthem, ‘Nkosi Sikelel’ iAfrika (Lord, Bless Africa)’.

The second is ‘Die Stem van Suid-Afrika (The Call of South Africa)’, which was the country’s national anthem during Apartheid.

When South Africa won the Rugby World Cup back in 1995, the powers that be officially decided to acknowledge both songs as national anthems.

The anthems were played alongside each other at the tournament, and two years later, they merged into one song.

What are the lyrics?

South Africa’s national anthem features five of the most widely spoken of the country’s eleven official languages – Xhosa, Zulu, Sesotho, Afrikaans and English.

You can find all the lyrics below, along with an English translation.

‘Nkosi Sikelel' iAfrika (The Call of South Africa)’
Nkosi Sikelel' iAfrika (Xhosa)
Maluphakanyisw' uphondo lwayo (Xhosa)
Yizwa imithandazo yethu, (Zulu)
Nkosi sikelela, thina lusapho Iwayo. (Zulu)
Morena boloka setjhaba sa heso, (Sesotho)
O fedise dintwa le matshwenyeho, (Sesotho)
O se boloke, O se boloke setjhaba sa heso, (Sesotho)
Setjhaba sa, South Afrika, South Afrika. (Sesotho)

‘Die Stem van Suid-Afrika (Lord, Bless Africa)’
Uit die blou van onse hemel, (Afrikaans)
Uit die diepte van ons see, (Afrikaans)
Oor ons ewige gebergtes, (Afrikaans)
Waar die kranse antwoord gee, (Afrikaans)

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

What are the lyrics translated into English?

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,
From the depths of our seas,
Over everlasting mountains,
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.