Google
By Kevin Lui
April 27, 2017

Google is marking the anniversary of South Africa’s first post-apartheid election on Thursday with a Doodle honoring 19th century composer Enoch Sontonga, who wrote a song that is now part of the country’s current national anthem.

Sontonga, who was also a choirmaster and poet, composed the song Nkosi Sikelel’ iAfrika (God Bless Africa) in 1897. It became popular over the years, according to Google, and was even recorded in a London studio in 1923.

Singing the song became “an act of defiance” during apartheid, the South African government notes on its website, and became the anthem for the African National Congress. Because of this connection the song was banned during apartheid, as the Guardian noted in 2013. In 1997, parts of Nkosi Sikeleil’ iAfrika were fused with the country’s other anthem, Die Stem (The Call of South Africa), to become the current national anthem of South Africa

Freedom Day, on April 27, is a public holiday in South Africa. On this day in 1994, the country’s first democratic elections took place, in which people of voting age from all races and ethnicities could cast a ballot. With over 60% of the votes going to the ANC, Nelson Mandela became the country’s first black, and first democratically elected, President.

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