Ladies And Gentlemen, Please Be Upstanding For The National Anthem

18 May

I was looking for a You Tube clip of Steph on Over the Rainbow – I’m gutted she’s out; it’s my fault for not voting because I taped it and watched it the next day – when I came across this clip from the SABC, the broadcasting arm of the Rainbow Nation:

I love the South African national anthem; talk about a coalition: two minutes, two tunes, five of the eleven official languages.  It was an inspired piece of thinking from Nelson Mandela.  In case you don’t know the history, I’ve copied this from Wikipedia:

For decades during the apartheid regime it was considered by many to be the unofficial national anthem of South Africa, representing the suffering of the oppressed. In 1994 after the fall of apartheid, the new State President of  South Africa Nelson Mandela declared that both “Nkosi Sikelel’ iAfrika” and the previous national anthem, “Die Stem van Suid Afrika” (“The Voice of South Africa”) would be national anthems. While the inclusion of “Nkosi Sikelel’ iAfrika” rejoiced in the newfound freedom of many South Africans, the fact that “Die Stem” was also kept as an anthem even after the fall of apartheid, signified to all that the new government under Mr Mandela respected all races and cultures and that an all-inclusive new era was dawning upon South Africa. In 1996, a shortened, combined version of the two anthems was released as the new South African National Anthem under the constitution of South Africa.

I like a good national anthem.  My favourites are the South African; the British (naturally): 

 The American:

And the French:

 

I find it amusing that three of my favourites celebrate republicanism and the fourth monarchy.  I guess it’s all down to their rousing tunes, which is the point of a national anthem, after all: they are a rallying cry set to music. 

I had a quick look at the different lyrics.  It was inevitable, I suppose, that the French anthem would ramble on for five minutes, but they are complaining about bad soldiers slitting their throats so we’ll forgive them that.  Their anthem says

…that the impure blood
Should water the furrows of our fields.

The Americans thunder about 

…the rockets’ red glare
The bombs bursting in air.
 

Before peace descended on South Africa, Afrikaaners

…always, always say yes:
To live, to die.

And the British?  Why, we

confound their politics
Frustrate their knavish tricks.

That told ’em! 

I guess it’s why we have a constitutional monarchy system that still works; we are far too polite to change it.  Even our radical new political system is just two groups agreeing to disagree on a few points and rub along on the rest.

An interesting fact about Nkosi Sikelel’ iAfrika: it is also the national anthem of Tanzania and Zambia and was formerly the anthem of Zimbabwe and Namibia.  It was written in 1897 as a Methodist hymn.  The title means God bless Africa.  A nice little irony is that it was the rallying cry of the exiled and Communist-supported ANC.

The reason for the SABC video of the national anthem is to teach the South African population the words in time for the World Cup.  Not everyone speaks five languages, though most South Africans speak at least two and often three.  As the host nation, it would be embarrassing if the people didn’t know the words to their own national anthem; just ask the British: our footballers all speak the same language, but most of them lip synch like a bad dubbing at international fixtures.  Still, we don’t pay them obscene amounts of money to be literate, do we?  Just as well, really.

 

 

 

 

 

3 Responses to “Ladies And Gentlemen, Please Be Upstanding For The National Anthem”

  1. Frank Mosley May 18, 2010 at 13:49 #

    I think you missed out on, what I consider, to be one of the most stirring national anthems musically – the Russian. I first heard it when I was doing security at a European judo competition held in London in 1976. Like the Olympics the national anthem of the winner was played at the medal presentation. It moved me the first time I heard it and, unfortunately, I heard it a lot that week as the Russian team made the rest of Europe wish they had taken up knitting. I have no idea what they say when they sing to their anthem as my Russian is restricted to ordering a beer and swear words that will guarentee to get you into a fight.

    Like

    • tillybud May 18, 2010 at 14:34 #

      I’m off to check it out.

      I’m back. Okay, I’ll give you that one – stirring stuff.

      Like

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