VPMA93H3 Chapter Notes - Chapter 7: Cornelis Jacobus Langenhoven, South African Broadcasting Corporation, Enoch Sontonga

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16 Aug 2016
Lecture 7:
Required Reading:
Please read and make notes on the background of the South African national anthem:
Die Stem van Suid-Afrika is a poem written by CJ Langenhoven in May 1918. The music was
composed by the Reverend ML de Villiers in 1921.
The South African Broadcasting Corporation played both God save the King and Die Stem to
close their daily broadcasts and the public became familiar with it. It was first sung publicly at the
official hoisting of the national flag in Cape Town on 31 May 1928, but it was not until 2 May 1957
that government made the announcement that Die Stem had been accepted as the official
national anthem of South Africa. In the same year, government also acquired the copyright and
this was confirmed by an Act of Parliament in 1959. In 1952, the official English version of the
national anthem, The Call of South Africa was accepted for official use.
Nkosi Sikelel' iAfrika was composed in 1897 by Enoch Sontonga, a Methodist mission school
teacher. The words of the first stanza were originally written in Xhosa as a hymn. Seven
additional stanzas in Xhoza were later added by the poet, Samuel Mqhayi. A Sesotho version
was published by Moses Mphahlele in 1942.Nkosi Sikelel' iAfrika was popularised at concerts
held in Johannesburg by Reverend JL Dube's Ohlange Zulu Choir. It became a popular church
hymn that was later adopted as an anthem at political meetings. It was sung as an act of defiance
during the Apartheid years. The first stanza is generally sung in Xhosa or Zulu followed by the
Sesotho version. Apparently there is no standard version or translations of Nkosi and the words
vary from place to place and from occasion to occasion.
This is the official version of the national anthem, combining Nkosi Sikelel' iAfrikaand Die
Stem/The Call of South Africa, with a translation in English given in brackets. Read it from the
Protocol on respecting the National Anthem
The National Anthem should be recited with appropriate respect.
All should stand to attention with their hands placed at their sides while singing the National
Civilians should take their hats off as a sign of respect.
Further Reading
Recent article criticizing the South African anthem: http://www.news24.com/MyNews24/Die-Stem-
'Die Stem' which means the call in English and pitso ka Sesotho originates from a poem titled Die
Stem Van Suid Afrika/The call of South Africa. The poem in question was written by an Afrikaner
named Cornelis Jacobus Langenhoven. Langenhoven was an Afrikaner writer whose contribution
to the development of Afrikaans literature was monumental for Afrikaner nationalism,
subsequenctly having enormous impact on Africans in ‘South Africa’. Unfortunately post-1976
black students still find themselves being taught in a language that ignites the trauma of black
violence and subjugation at an educational institution that has a student centre named after
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