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 using the tune
'Aberystwyth' originally composed by Joseph Parry
in 1879. It was 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 by
several choirs and it quickly became popular. 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
'Native Christian' section of the Braamfontein
cemetery in the early 1990s; one of the reasons
why his grave could not be found is that it was
listed under 'Enoch' and not 'Sontonga'.
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
He was voted 65th in the Top 100 Great South
Africans in 2004. Text source : Wikipedia (Hide extended text) ... (Read all)
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