I admittedly have only thought a total of about 5 minutes about the United States pledge of allegiance - something I said every single morning for all of the formative years of my life, and then again for two years as a teacher. The debate here of the past weeks has made me go back and reconsider those words and what saying them every day as a child truly signifies.
In short, some South Africans feel that the pledge would foster a feeling of guilt among white South African students for the actions of the past regime. Others feel that the pledge would be a unifying symbol of what it means to be a South African in the "new" South Africa. Still others, including my roommates, feel that it is an unnecessary indoctrination of young children, before they have the chance to decide for themselves where exactly their allegiance lies.
Here is the pledge as it would stand:
"We the youth of South Africa, recognising the injustices of our past, honour those who suffered and sacrificed for justice and freedom. We will respect and protect the dignity of each person, and stand up for justice. We sincerely declare that we shall uphold the rights and values of our Constitution and promise to act in accordance with the duties and responsibilities that flow from these rights."
Read more about this here.
On the other hand, the national anthem of South Africa is absolutely the most beautiful national anthem I have ever heard, and it brings me to tears every time I hear it sung. It is written in 4 different languages, representing all of the major language groups of the country. Click here to listen to the national anthem.
Maluphakanyisw' uphondo lwayo,
Yizwa imithandazo yethu,
Nkosi sikelela, thina lusapho lwayo.
Morena boloka setjhaba sa heso,
O fedise dintwa la matshwenyeho,
O se boloke, O se boloke setjhaba sa heso,
Setjhaba sa South Afrika - South Afrika.
Uit die blou van onse hemel,
Uit die diepte van ons see,
Oor ons ewige gebergtes,
Waar die kranse antwoord gee,
And united we shall stand,
Let us live and strive for freedom,
In South Africa our land.
The isiXhosa and isiZulu of the first stanza, the Sesotho of the second stanza and the Afrikaans of the third stanza translate into English as follows:
- Lord, bless Africa
May her spirit rise high up
Hear thou our prayers
Lord bless us.
Lord, bless Africa
Banish wars and strife
Lord, bless our nation
Of South Africa.
Ringing out from our blue heavens
From our deep seas breaking round
Over everlasting mountains
Where the echoing crags resound ...