No - not Art, as in "arts and culture", but Ard as in Mr Mumble Matthews who slightly slaughtered our national anthem live on TV before the full Springbok squad. 

Shame. I felt for him. Cos as much of a leftie as I've always been considered to be, a patriot, a committed African, there is always that tricky passage in the second paragraph of Nkosi Sikhelele that I always hum to after boldly singing the opening stanzas and before I kick in again on "uit die blou van ons se hemel", which I remember from those daft assemblies at school.

Apparently lots of us suffer from this, as I found out at Scifest in Grahamstown this year, where an interesting little device actually allowed you to sing into it to the tune of Nkosi - measuring just how much of the anthem you sang correctly. As I hung my head at the end of my relatively dodgy rendition, the lady manning it smiled kindly. "Not bad" she said. "Not bad?" I replied. "I was awful!" "Still", she said. "You are better than most ..." I knew she wanted to say it but couldn't - most whiteys. She was very impressed with my toy toying though, when in desperation I whipped out my limited "got tear-gassed at Wits from 1986 to 1989 struggle credentials". And she thought my ability to speak the township slang of tsotsitaal - learnt through 18 years of my BCC, (behind the cafe counter) - was quite cute. But still I walked away feeling a bit like a fraud - How the heck do I still not know all the words of our national anthem 17 years since freedom?

So seeing Ard Matthews blunder his way through it didn't fill me with indignation or compassion. It just reinforced a tad my shame. I will learn that middle paragraph! And I won't mumble my way through proclaiming my Africanness again. And let's all not be so hard on our Arty farty. He's no guiltier than millions of us. It doesn't mean that what he did was fine. But I do think it opens up an amazing opportunity for all of us to look into the mirror and practice singing the full length of our anthem - remembering how special it is that we are free to sing it proudly today!    


Related post with video 


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Comment by Paulo Do Carmo on August 25, 2011 at 15:53

Great Post Strato. It is indeed a very special feeling to be able to sing it without fear of reprise or recrimination. Something I list as part of my life achievements.

On a lighter note, here is an interesting link that even has a little insert on pronunciations.

Sing along guys...we are going to need all the encouragement we can get in less than 2 weeks time.:-)

Comment by Beth Seagal on August 25, 2011 at 17:01
Paulo, thanks for posting. I have been meaning to get my hands on the anthem. I will be prepared for the final, singing with all my heart as we take on Ausi.

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