Although this blog's name is inspired by Sauti Kubwa ("Big Voice"), the late lead singer of Rumba Japan, a band that played in Nairobi in the early years of this century, it won't focus unduly on Swahili nicknames, rumba music or indeed any other African issues.


Tuesday, 6 July 2010

National Anthems

I'm not interest in football, or any other sports. But I've watched a few World Cup matches as some associated aspects provide an attraction.

One is the national anthems played at the start. I've long been interested in these, based on hearing so many of them on shortwave radio over four decades.

The Portuguese and Greek ones were early favourites, especially when I learnt that the former once had a line about "marching against the Britons".

The Devil certainly has some of the best tunes in national anthems. Die Stem, the anthem of apartheid South Africa, is a cracker, and a truncated version of it has been incorporated in the current SA anthem, though the apocalyptic penultimate line:

At thy will to live or perish,
O South Africa, dear land

(with, in the official SABC recording, a melodramatic drum-roll and crash of cymbals)

has been replaced by:

Let us live and strive for freedom
In South Africa our land

Other defunct dictatorial regimes with great anthems were East Germany and the USSR.

Returning to the World Cup, I'll watch tonight's match if for nothing else to hear Het Wilhelmus, I think the only national anthem sung in the first person of a long-dead monarch.

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