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South Africans urged to learn national anthem

By Liz Clarke

All 10 venues for the 2010 World Cup have been declared ready. And nearly every vehicle on the highways around Johannesburg is flying the South African flag.

But with four days to go before Friday's opening match, pitting the host nation's Bafana Bafana against Mexico, many South Africans still have work to do regarding their national anthem.

The anthem was stitched together as a political compromise in 1997 from two songs South Africans long regarded as their rightful anthem: The unofficial one, "Nkosi Sikelel' iAfrika" (God Bless Africa), a hymn that dates to 1897 and was sung by a majority of residents in church and later as an act of defiance during apartheid, and "Die Stem van Suid-Afrika" (The Call of South Africa), recognized as the nation's official anthem from 1957 to 1995.

Following the democratic elections of 1994.....

President Nelson Mandela's government declared the nation would recognize both anthems. In 1997 the two songs were merged into one.

As with many products of compromise, it has never been fully embraced. With stanzas in five of South Africa's 11 official languages (Xhosa, Zulu, Sesotho, Afrikaans and English), it remains a challenge for many to sing. Others choose not to.

But in the run-up to the World Cup, organizers of the national spirit campaign known as "Football Fridays" have been urging their fellow South Africans to "take ownership of your song."

"Do all your colleagues know and understand the words to our national anthem?" asks the Football Fridays Web site, a project of the International Marketing Council of South Africa. "Some may need a little encouragement."

So it posts the lyrics, a pronunciation guide, an MP3 download and suggestions for getting co-workers and friends ready to sing along. Among the tips: Inviting a local celebrity or musician to give lessons at work; e-mailing the lyrics to staff and clients; playing the anthem over the public-address system during lunch hours; and using it as background music when callers are placed on hold.

By Liz Clarke  |  June 7, 2010; 3:17 PM ET
Categories:  2010 World Cup , South Africa  | Tags: 2010 World Cup, National Anthem, Nelson Mandela, South Africa  
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Perhaps the plastic horn can replace the words and music? South Africa in B Flat.

Posted by: nairbsod | June 7, 2010 3:33 PM | Report abuse

One of my favorite national anthems.

Posted by: Kev29 | June 7, 2010 3:44 PM | Report abuse

my country tis of thee...sweet land of misery...

not it?

Posted by: TheWashDipsSince88 | June 7, 2010 3:45 PM | Report abuse

We have the same problem and ours is in English and has been the official national anthem since 1931.

Posted by: I-270Exit1 | June 7, 2010 3:49 PM | Report abuse

Seems like the rugby fans could sing in a few years ago?

Posted by: prokaryote | June 7, 2010 3:50 PM | Report abuse

OT: I'll be in the Foggy Bottom area on Friday. Anyone know of nearby bars that are open and showing the World Cup?

Posted by: nairbsod | June 7, 2010 4:01 PM | Report abuse

I think I know that song ... "welcome my son, to the machine."

Posted by: Matte | June 7, 2010 4:11 PM | Report abuse

Posted by: I-270Exit1 | June 7, 2010 4:14 PM | Report abuse

OT: I'll be in the Foggy Bottom area on Friday. Anyone know of nearby bars that are open and showing the World Cup?

Posted by: nairbsod | June 7, 2010 4:01 PM

Tonic on 21st and G will be open for all 10am and 2:30pm matches. So that's a go for Friday.

Not a bad place

Posted by: Kev29 | June 7, 2010 4:15 PM | Report abuse


Try McFaddens on Pennsylvania Avenue. They say they will be showing all games. 51st State across the street is another place to check but they don't usually open early.

Posted by: LostinPotomac | June 7, 2010 4:21 PM | Report abuse

This reminds me that our last WC site, Germany, has had trouble coming up with a national holiday, not that they need one with all the bank holidays, but there were so many Nazi atrocities on so many dates that coming up with a date with nothing but good vibrations has proven elusive.

Posted by: paulkp | June 7, 2010 4:30 PM | Report abuse

I bet everyone would really take it to heart if Enrico Pallazzo were to sing that anthem during the opening ceremony...

Posted by: CDRHoek | June 7, 2010 5:02 PM | Report abuse

Hey Look! It's Enrico Pallazzo!

Posted by: Reignking | June 7, 2010 5:36 PM | Report abuse

"It appears that the umpires now have Creshone in a rundown!"

Posted by: Kev29 | June 7, 2010 6:01 PM | Report abuse

here are how anthems should be played:

Renault F1 car sings "God Save the Queen"

have to get about 1 minute in.....

Posted by: Section107 | June 7, 2010 6:02 PM | Report abuse


Posted by: nairbsod | June 7, 2010 7:30 PM | Report abuse

Same old story. Boy finds girl. Boy loses girl. Girl finds boy. Boy forgets girl. Boy remembers girl. Girl dies in a tragic blimp accident over the Orange Bowl on New Year's Day.

Posted by: boda-united | June 7, 2010 8:23 PM | Report abuse

That's why I never go to Blimpies.

Posted by: Rand-al-Thor | June 7, 2010 8:46 PM | Report abuse

Jane, since I've met you, I've noticed things that I never knew were there before... birds singing, dew glistening on a newly formed leaf, stoplights.

Posted by: Southeasterner | June 8, 2010 1:18 AM | Report abuse

Usually I just think about baseball.

Posted by: JacobfromAtlanta-ish | June 8, 2010 3:59 AM | Report abuse

Doctors say that Nordberg has a 50 - 50 chance of living, though there's only a 10 percent chance of that.

Posted by: boda-united | June 8, 2010 9:04 AM | Report abuse

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