Cape Town - A national anthem boasting more than one official language, it comes as no surprise that South Africa’s national anthem, Nkosi Sikelel’ iAfrika (God Bless Africa), has been rated the best in the world.
Enoch Sontonga’s hymn, according to The Economist, is "the best".
"Too many national anthems suffer from dreary harmonies and dull platitudes," says the publication, explaining that what makes a national anthem really good is a “rousing tune to quicken the pulse, some pathos to moisten the eyes and that inexplicable something to make it stand out from all the rest”.
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The Economist says that SA's anthem's "lyrics combine Afrikaans‚ English‚ Xhosa‚ Zulu and Sesotho in an act of musical healing for the Rainbow Nation.”
"South Africa’s, Nkosi Sikelel’ iAfrika‚ create their own world entirely," it adds.
Sontonga wrote Nkosi Sikelel’ iAfrika as a prayer when he was 24 years old‚ according to SA History Online. Seven years after his death in April 1905‚ the ANC launched his hymn as an anthem of black struggle. In 1994 it was merged with Die Stem‚ or Call of South Africa which was written in 1918 by Afrikaans poet, CJ Langenhoven, for the country's national anthem.
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This is not the first time an African national anthem has been crowned the best in the world. In 2016, during the Olympics, the Kenyan national anthem was played so much it was voted as the best in the world.
Top national anthems in the world
Just behind SA in second spot was Russia's national anthem, with The Economist saying "could anything be more stirring than this performance belted out by the Red Army Choir?"
Uruguay's anthem "for sheer exuberance" came in third place. The Economist says a number of anthems "are hemmed in by the musical traditions of Europe in the 19th-century‚ when nationalism spread across the world — Uruguay’s is the best of the bunch."
Brazil‚ Ukraine‚ Japan, Israel‚ Nepal‚ Germany and the US comprised the rest of the top 10. See the full playlist here.
The publication says too many anthems‚ including UK’s God Save the Queen‚ "suffer from dreary harmonies and platitudes about being victorious and glorious".
"The home nations of the UK have all the best tunes — just listen to Wales’ Land of our Fathers.
"Good anthems‚ such as Ukraine’s and Israel’s‚ contain a tinge of sadness‚ because nationalism is really about longing‚ suffering and sacrifice," The Economist adds.
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