There are three countries participating in the Africa Cup of Nations that have very similar national anthems. South Africa, Tanzania, and Zambia have anthems that were all composed by a South African. South Africa, unfortunately, suffered a 2-0 defeat to Mali and is now at the bottom of Group E.
What these three nations have in common, besides being members of the Southern African Development Community (SADC), is their national anthems. South Africa’s anthem, “Nkosi Sikelel’ iAfrika,” was composed in 1897 by Enoch Sontonga, a teacher at a Methodist mission school. Originally written in Xhosa as a hymn, it gained popularity through concerts held in Johannesburg by Reverend JL Dube’s Ohlange Zulu Choir. Over time, it became a favored church hymn and was later adopted as an anthem for political meetings. It was also sung as an act of defiance during the Apartheid era.
According to the South African government website, “Nkosi Sikelel’ iAfrika” is a prayer for God’s blessing on the land and became a resistance song by 1925 when it was made the official anthem of the African National Congress, as stated on sahistory.org.
In upcoming matches, Bafana Bafana, the South African team, will hope to keep their AFCON dreams alive when they face neighbors Namibia on Sunday evening at 22:00 SA time. Before that game, the Tanzanian team, Taifa Stars, will clash with Zambia, also known as Chipolopolo, at 19:00.
Overall, these three countries share not only a geographical proximity but also a musical connection through their similar national anthems.