This Blog is also available as an RSS Feed

Miscellaneous

Enoch Sontonga – Composer of Nkosi Sikelel' iAfrica

While alive not many people really knew who Enoch Sontonga was, or that his legacy and words would impact so many people, his composition becoming part of the national anthem of South Africa. Unfortunately there is not much information available in regard to the early life of Sontonga, only stories that have been retold, as well as his own words and humble dreams put down on paper and turned into songs that are still sung today. Nkosi Sikelel' iAfrica became an iconic song in the history of South Africa, bringing the nation together, as Sontonga had always hoped.

What is known about Enoch Sontonga is that he was born in Uitenhage, a city just outside of Port Elizabeth, in the Eastern Cape Province. It is estimated that he was born in the year 1873 and attended the Lovedale Institution where he studied to become a teacher. After he completed his training he took a position at a Methodist Mission School that was located in Nancefield, situated just outside of Johannesburg. Here he met his wife, Diana Mgqibisa, who was a minister’s daughter. Together they had one son. Sontonga also became an accomplished photographer and a choirmaster.

Seeing the suffering of the people around him touched Sontonga deeply and led to him beginning to write poems the he later wrote music for. He wrote Nkosi Sikelel' iAfrica in 1897, at the age of twenty-four. It was written as a prayer to ask God to bless the country and its people. Samuel Mqhayi later wrote seven more verses for the song. Sontonga and his choir toured Johannesburg and Kwa-Zulu Natal and sang the song wherever they performed. Other choirs caught onto the song and also began to sing it, with it being played in public for the first time in 1899.

Sontonga passed away in 1905, and his gravesite in Braamfontein was only recently discovered. He passed away at the young age of thirty-two. Choirs kept requested permission from his widow to sing his songs and it was said that she sold the rights to Nkosi Sikelel' iAfrica. She passed away in 1929.

Nkosi Sikelel' iAfrica became the national anthem for the African National Congress and in 1994, it was amalgamated with Die Stem, or Call of South Africa, that was written in 1918 by CJ Langenhoven, an Afrikaans poet. In Xhosa, the words to the song that immortalized Enoch Sontonga are as follows:

Nkosi, sikelel' iAfrika
Maluphakamis'upondo lwayo
Yizwa imithandazo yethu
Nkosi sikelela, Thina lusapholwayo
Yehla Moya, Yehla Moya,
Yehla Moya Oyingcwele

The English translation is as follows:

Lord, bless Africa
May her horn rise high up
Hear Thou our prayers And bless us.
Descend, O Spirit
Descend, O Holy Spirit.

 





Combine Flights?












Password Reminder

Or sign in using one of the following providers:

Latest Travel Articles

Ramsar Wetlands: Barberspan and Blesbokspruit

Named for the city in Iran where the treaty was signed in 1971, the Ramsar Convention is an inte.... read more

Explore the Sevilla Rock Art Trail

Winding alongside the Brandewyn River in the Cedarberg region of the Western Cape, the 4km long .... read more

Enjoy the Tranquility of Rondvlei Nature Reserve

Home to the only hippos in the Western Cape Province, and a spectacular bird watching destinat.... read more

An Abundance of Quality Art at Durban's Art Galleries

With its temperate climate and laid-back vibe, Durban is one of South Africa's top holiday desti.... read more

Whale Watching in Algoa Bay

Winter and spring offer plenty of whale watching opportunities along South Africa's coastline,.... read more

More Articles