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Encyclopedia > Enoch Sontonga

Enoch Mankayi Sontonga (ca. 1873 - 18 April 1905) was the composer of Nkosi Sikelel' iAfrika (God Bless Africa), which has been part of the South African national anthem since 1994. It was also the official African National Congress (ANC) anthem since 1925 and is still the national anthem of Tanzania and Zambia. It was also sung in Zimbabwe and Namibia for many years.


Sontonga, a Xhosa, was born in the city of Uitenhage in the Eastern Cape. He trained as a teacher at the Lovedale Institution and subsequently attended the Methodist Mission school in Nancefield, near Johannesburg. He was also a choirmaster and a photographer.


The first verse and chorus of Nkosi Sikelel' iAfrika was composed in 1897 and first sung in public in 1899 at the ordination of Reverend Boweni, a Methodist minister. Later the Xhosa poet Samuel Mqhayi wrote a further seven verses.


The song was sung throughout South Africa be several choirs and it quickly became poplular. On 8 January 1912, at the first meeting of the South African Native National Congress (the forerunner of the African National Congress), it was sung after the closing prayer. The ANC adopted it as its official closing anthem in 1925.


For many years the site of the grave of Sontonga was unknown, but it was finally located in the Braamfontein cemetery in the early 1990s. On 24 September 1996, the grave of Sontonga was declared a national monument and a memorial on the site was unveiled by President Nelson Mandela. At the same ceremony the South African Order of Meritorious Service (Gold) was bestowed on Enoch Sontonga posthumously.


He was voted 65th in the Top 100 Great South Africans (see List of South Africans) in 2004.


  Results from FactBites:
 
Enoch Sontonga - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia (309 words)
Sontonga, a Xhosa, was born in the city of Uitenhage in the Eastern Cape.
For many years the site of the grave of Sontonga was unknown, but it was finally located in the Braamfontein cemetery in the early 1990s.
On 24 September 1996, the grave of Sontonga was declared a national monument and a memorial on the site was unveiled by President Nelson Mandela.
  More results at FactBites »

 
 

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