The composer of part of the national anthem‚ Enoch Sontonga‚ is honoured in Google’s Freedom Day doodle on Thursday.
The doodle‚ marking the 23rd anniversary of South Africa’s first post-apartheid election‚ features a musical stave with Sontongo — composer of Nkosi Sikelel’ iAfrika (God Bless Africa) in 1897 — in the middle.
Singing the song became “an act of defiance” during apartheid‚ the South African government says on its website‚ and it became the anthem for the ANC‚ earning a ban by the government.
In 1997‚ parts of Nkosi Sikelel’ iAfrika were fused with Die Stem (The Call of South Africa) to become the current national anthem. The song is also the national anthem of Tanzania and Zambia.
According to Wikipedia‚ Sontonga’s grave was located in the “Native Christian” section of Braamfontein cemetery in the early 1990s. In 1996‚ it was declared a national monument and a memorial on the site was unveiled by President Nelson Mandela.
In coalition talks after last year’s local government elections‚ which resulted in a number of severe setbacks for the ANC‚ the Economic Freedom Fighters led by Julius Malema demanded the dropping of Die Stem from the national anthem.