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Nkosi Sikelel’ iAfrika

Enoch Sontonga who was born in Uitenhage in the Eastern Cape, South Africa in about 1873. A choirmaster and photographer.  Sontonga died unexpectedly in Johannesburg in 1905, at the age of 32.Sontonga wrote the first verse and chorus and also composed the music for Nkosi Sikelel’ iAfrika in 1897. His choir and others sang this song around Johannesburg and Natal and it made a strong impression on audiences. In 1912, at the first meeting of the South African Native National Congress (SANNC), the forerunner of the African National Congress, it was immediately sung after the closing prayer and in 1925 the ANC officially adopted it as a closing anthem for its meetings.The song spread beyond the borders of South Africa and has been translated and adapted into a number of other languages. It is still the national anthem of Tanzania and in 1994 it became part of South Africa's national anthem. On 24 September 1996, Heritage Day, the grave of Enoch Sontonga was declared a national monument by South African President Nelson Mandela. At the ceremony, the Order of Meritorious Service (Gold) was bestowed on Enoch Sontonga posthumously, received by his granddaughter, Mrs Ida Rabotape. The program included praise poetry and a narration that told something of this man, who wrote a song almost 100 years earlier that, unbeknown to him, stirred the hearts and gave strength to thousands during struggles in South African history.

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