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The South African national anthem and what it means

south african national anthem
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The South African national anthem (which was adopted in 1997, post-apartheid) is a combination of two traditional songs and 5 of the most commonly spoken languages in South Africa.

The song uses extracts from the 19th-century hymn “Nkosi Sikelel’ iAfrika“—which means “God Bless Africa” and the old Afrikaans national anthem, “Die Stem van Suid-Afrika—which means “The Voice of South Africa”.

The five most commonly spoken languages which are part of the national anthem, are:

  • Xhosa,
  • Zulu,
  • Sesotho,
  • Afrikaans
  • English
South African National Anthem - the lyrics

Below is South Africa’s national anthem along with the line-by-line translation of the lyrics. In brackets, also see the language that the lines represent.

South Africa’s National Anthem

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)

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.

Translation of the national anthem

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.


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Hi! We’re the Cheltens’. We visit South Africa 1-2 times per year. We want to share our experiences with you so that you may make educated decisions when you plan your next trip to the rainbow nation.

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