Sunday, October 20, 2013

The South African National Anthem: a history on record

Ever since I heard Gideon Nxumalo’s very subtle piano hint to Nkosi Sikelel iAfrika in the opening bars of his 2nd Movement on the classic 1962 live recording, Jazz Fantasia, at the Wits Great Hall, I had been compiling a casual list of the various other recordings of this classic hymn and anthem.

At that time the song had supposedly been freshly banned by the apartheid authorities and any performance was, according to some sources, prohibited. Which might explain Nxumalo’s exceptionally subtle approach. I thought then how an examination of this anthem along with its various iterations might be a potentially interesting subject for a future post.

Recently, I was contacted by Anders Kelto, a reporter for PRI and BBC’s radio programme The World, who was looking for early recordings of the South African National Anthem in any of its various forms. I sent Anders my compiled list with the information that I had collected to that point. Of course, one thing led to another and I continued expanding on this research. The subsequent article is the result and covers the history of the recordings not only of Nkosi Sikelel iAfrika but also the various other songs, Morena Boloka, Die Stem van Suid-Afrika, and The Call of South Africa, that make up the Anthem.


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