National anthem is frequently played at patriotic celebrations and sporting events, but they can also provide insight into a nation’s political and cultural past.
Below are a brief history of the National Anthems of Ten African countries
- Nigeria’s National Anthem
The anthem was adopted in 1978 and replaced the previous national anthem, “Nigeria, We Hail Thee”.
The lyrics are a combination of words and phrases taken from five of the best entries in a national contest. The words were put to music by the Nigerian Police Band under the directorship of Benedict P. Odiase (1934–2013). The Nigerian national anthem lyrics were created by 5 people: P.O. Aderibigbe, John A. Ilechukwu, Dr. Sota Omoigui, Eme tim Akpan and B.A. Ogunnaike.
- Kenya’s National Anthem
“Ee Mungu Nguvu Yetu”‘s lyrics were originally written in Kiswahili, the national language of Kenya. The commission included five members and was headed by the Kenya Music Adviser. It was based on a traditional tune sung by Pokomo mothers to their children.
It is notable for being one of the first national anthems to be specifically commissioned as such. It was written by the Kenyan Anthem Commission in 1963 to serve as the state anthem after independence from the United Kingdom. It was expected that the lyrics would express the deepest convictions and the highest aspirations of the people as a whole.
- Rwanda’s National Anthem
Rwanda Nziza” represented the winning entry, with lyrics composed by Faustin Murigo of Karubanda prison, and melody by Captain Jean-Bosco Hashakaimana of the Rwandan army brass band. “Rwanda Nziza” became the official anthem of Rwanda on 1 January 2002.
- Ghana’s National Anthem
The music for the national anthem was originally composed by Philip Gbeho and sung to lyrics written by Emmanuel Pappoe-Thompson. However the words were revised by a literary committee in the Office of the then head of state, Kwame Nkrumah. Michael Kwame Gbordzoe has made claims to the current lyrics being used saying that it was written by him after the overthrow of President Nkrumah. A competition was held and Kwame Gbordzoe, who was then a student at Bishop Herman College, presented the current lyrics which was chosen to replace “Lift High The Flag Of Ghana” which had been officially adopted after independence and used as Ghana’s national anthem during Nkrumah’s presidency.
- Egypt’s National Anthem
The lyrics were written by Mohamed Younis al-Qady and Sayed Darwish composed the music and maintained close ties with early leaders of the national movement for independence in Egypt, such as Mustafa Kamel. In fact, the chorus of Egypt’s national anthem was derived from one of Kamel’s most famous speeches.
Egypt’s first national anthem dated back to 1869 when a royal anthem was composed to honor the monarch. It is unclear how long this anthem was in use. Although the monarchy was deposed in 1952, the anthem was used as part of the anthem of the United Arab Republic with Syria in 1958.
- Niger Republic’s National Anthem
“La Nigérienne” (English: “The Nigerien”) is the national anthem of Niger. The lyrics are by Maurice Albert Thiriet; Robert Jacquet and Nicolas Abel François Frionnet wrote the music. It was adopted as Niger’s anthem in 1961.
- South Africa’s National Anthem
The National Anthem of South Africa was adopted in 1997 and is a hybrid song combining new English lyrics with extracts of the 19th century hymn “Nkosi Sikelel’ iAfrika” (English: “God Bless Africa”, lit. '”Lord Bless Africa”‘) and the Afrikaans song “Die Stem van Suid-Afrika” (English: “The Voice of South Africa”), which was used as the South African national anthem during the apartheid era.
- Botswana’s National Anthem
“Fatshe leno la rona” meaning “Blessed Be This Noble Land” is the national anthem of Botswana. The music was composed by Kgalemang Tumediso Motsete, who also authored the song’s lyrics. It was adopted when the country became independent in 1966. Since independence, the song is sung occasionally during the country’s important events such as Kgotla meetings, independence celebrations and other national events.
- Cameroon’s National Anthem
It was used on an unofficial basis in French Cameroon beginning in 1948 before independence and officially adopted as the anthem of the territory in 1957. In 1960, the anthem was officially adopted by the new Republic of Cameroon.
- Burundi’s National Anthem
“Burundi Bwacu” meaning “Our Burundi”is the national anthem of Burundi. Written in the Kirundi language by a group of writers led by Jean-Baptiste Ntahokaja, a Catholic priest, and composed by Marc Barengayabo, it was adopted upon independence in 1962.