Nkosi Sikelel' iAfrika
South Africa, Tanzania and Zambia (and previously Namibia and Zimbabwe) all share the same national anthem. In South Africa, the song goes by the name Nkosi sikelel' iAfrika and its lyrics call on God to bless Africa. But does anyone know who actually composed the song?
The song's origin dates back to 1897 when Enoch Mankayi Sontonga (1873 - 1905), a Xhosa composer, choir master and teacher from the Eastern Cape of South Africa composed the song. It was initially written as a hymn celebrating pan-Africanism against the oppressive regime of the time.
Sontonga composed the first two stanzas of Nkosi Sikelel' iAfrika for his school choir, and the song was first performed in 1899 at the ordination service of Reverend Mboweni, the first Tsonga Methodist Priest to be ordained.
Additional verses to the anthem were later added by the renowned IsiXhosa national poet, Samuel Mqhayi and the song was first recorded on October 16, 1923, in London.
By 1925 Nkosi Sikelel' iAfrika had become the official song of the African National Congress (ANC), and become the country's national anthem when it got independence in 1994. The song was adopted as Zambia's national anthem in 1960. In Tanzania, then Tanganyika, the song was translated into Swahili, Mungu ibariki Afrika, and was also adopted as its national anthem. It was also adopted in Zimbabwe as Ishe Komborera Afrika from independence in 1980 until 1994, and for less than a month after independence, it was used as Namibia's national anthem.