Subtitles for the national anthem

2019-11-13 06:01

FIRSTLY, well done the Springboks! They surely have achieved so much more than winning the Webb Ellis Cup and the top spot in world rugby. They have done so much more for ubuntu and nation-building in South Africa.

I can imagine catching the eye of a black brother in a supermarket and saying to him: “How did you like the Springboks game on Saturday?”

I am sure to receive a broad grin and an affirmative answer: “Yebo, well done ama Bokke-Bokke.” And that could lead to other nation-building conversations, who knows?

Anyway, back to the main reason for my letter. Watching the national anthem being sung before Saturday’s match, something struck me between the eyes (literally). Our beautiful anthem is sung in five languages — possibly the only anthem in the world split into five languages? I, as a white KwaZulu-Natal native, understood the Zulu component of the anthem (and yes, I have googled the whole English translation), but most white people probably don’t understand the words expressed in the three black languages.

So, what about English and Afrikaans subtitles for the sections sung in Xhosa, Zulu and Sotho, and then the English and Afrikaans sections subtitled in the three black languages, at all international matches?

I discovered on YouTube the beautiful music of the Misa Criolla, a sacred work, sung by Ariel Ramirez, but it is sung in Spanish or Latin and therefore I was only able to enjoy the music component, not understanding the words.

Then one day I discovered a version with English subtitles and “eureka!”. Suddenly the whole work became so much more meaningful, changing the whole experience.

I believe that with subtitles, the national anthem would mean so much more to all South Africans, and would bring about more of the much sought-after and needed ubuntu.




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