BIG READ: The origin story of an anthem born in choir, coal and community
No matter if ‘Nkosi Sikelel’ iAfrika’ was based on a Welsh hymn, it remains an anthem to dissidence
The past few weeks have been a time for anthems. Part of the iconography building up around Springbok captain Siya Kolisi is his lusty singing with closed eyes of all sections of our awkward national hymn, the close-up camera shots interspersed with those of spectators from all races belting it out with him. Social cohesion is the nationalistic concept it is meant to serve, and the threat of cohesion was probably why our disrupter-in-chief Julius Malema had to get in there some time ago to call for the abandonment of the anthem, or at least its purification into Nkosi Sikelele’ iAfrika only.
Personally, I would not mind in the least if Malema got his way. Even before my rebellious days as a youngster refusing to sing Die Stem, I hated the idea of a national anthem being forced on captive school kids and the cheap patriotism extorted from them. Just look at the expressions of consternation followed by faked conviction when Argentinians have to commit musical sin by singing thei...
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