Tuesday, July 13, 2010

The National Anthem of Ciskei

In 1981, Ciskei was proclaimed by the apartheid-era South Africa as an "independent black homeland" (in actuality, an area set up to reduce the black population of South Africa by giving them citizenship in this new area.) Not internationally recognized, Ciskei was re-incorporated into South Africa when the apartheid system was abolished in 1994.

As a separate "nation", Ciskei adopted the famous Southern African song "Nkosi sikelel' iAfrika" as its official national anthem. This could be explained by the fact that the writer of the song, Enoch Sontonga, was a member of the Xhosa people, which was the official language of Ciskei. Interestingly, not only was "Nkosi sikelel' iAfrika" used for decades prior to the creation of Ciskei as the anthem of the anti-apartheid movement, but also, this song became part of the anthem of the new South Africa after Ciskei was re-integrated.

This is a very popular song with the blacks of southern Africa, as not only has it served as the anthem of other southern African states (such as Tanzania, Zambia, and Zimbabwe (from 1980-1994)) but also other black "homelands" adopted this anthem such as Transkei (which also was awarded "independence"), KwaZulu, Lebowa, QwaQwa, Ganzankulu, KaNgwane and KwaNdebele (although these others, with the exception of Transkei (whose official language was also Xhosa), probably used translations into their own language.) There is also no standard version or translation for "Nkosi sikelel' iAfrika", it may vary from place to place and occasion to occasion.