National Anthem

Yesterday the kids from the neighbours, between 5 and 12 years old, suddenly started to sing. Most of the times when they do that it will be gospels (they’re at a catholic school), but this time it was the national anthem of South Sudan. It’s not something I would expect to happen in the Netherlands.

The text of the Dutch national anthem, the “Wilhelmus” has been written around 1570, the music is even older. The existing combination of text and music makes it the oldest song being used as a national anthem in the world, even though it functions as our national anthem only since 1932. It reality it means the text is outdated, it’s hard to match the text with the music and it’s way too long to remember. Most Dutch won’t sing it much anyway, except maybe in footballstadiums or on official occasions with the royal family, and even then only the first part.

In South Sudan the national anthem of course is brandnew. It’s written on the occasion of independence by students and teachers of the univerity of Juba en chosen as national anthem by a special commission. After I had heard it a few times I was able to sing along already (as far as I’m able to sing at all, but that’s a different story), and I’m not the only one. The melody is not very difficult and the text:

South Sudan Oyee!

Oh God!
We praise and glorify you
For your grace on South Sudan
Land of great abundance
Uphold us united in peace and harmony

Oh motherland!
We rise raising flag with the guiding star
And sing songs of freedom with joy
For justice, liberty and prosperity
Shall forevermore reign

Oh great patriots!
Let us stand up in silence and respect
Saluting our martyrs whose blood
Cemented our national foundation
We vow to protect our nation

Oh God, bless South Sudan!

Contrary to the text of the Dutch anthem which is about the past, this text contains visions for a great future. “Abundance”, “peace and harmony”, “justice, liberty and prosperity”, are not yet commenplaces for the average South Sudanes, so the request for a divine blessing seems to be a fitting ending.

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