The great Nkosi Sikelela rip-off

2012-06-17 15:30
Charl Blignaut, City Press
Johannesburg - South Africa’s national anthem is a cash cow – but it is foreign singers and international publishing companies who are milking Nkosi Sikelel’iAfrica for all it’s worth.

The global music industry – including the likes of Belgian singer Helmut Lotti – is making an estimated R100m a year off the anthem by listing versions of Nkosi Sikelel’iAfrica on a powerful and secretive international rights collection network called CIS-Net.

The government, meanwhile, says the state owns the national anthem on behalf of all South Africans – yet admits that it is not collecting a cent.

City Press gained access to information from the world’s most powerful music database, CIS-Net by FastTrack, drawn at the end of 2010 after a slew of new anthems emerged on the market in the years leading up to the FIFA World Cup.

It indicates that there are 61 claimants on royalties for Nkosi Sikelel’iAfrica or any derivative of the name, including National Anthem of South Africa.

This is backed up by information on the International Standard Musical Work Code database, as well as others seen by City Press.

The government’s name, however, could not be found.

Because the state appears not to have protected the various performance and mechanical rights payable to the 1994 version, it has opened a loophole that is easy for individuals to exploit, knowingly or unwittingly.


  • Lindelwa - 2012-06-17 11:25

    Not surprised, we have a stupid government that does not know what it is doing. Other countries take arts, culture and heritage very seriously; what does our arts, culture & heritage minister do? except name streets. A nation that does not value its heritage is doomed, it will be assimilated by other cultures.

      braamc - 2012-06-17 15:40

      Can't agree more

      Dave - 2012-06-17 15:46

      The first sentence of your comment says it all, for all aspects.

      fussed.anderson - 2012-06-17 16:12

      They protect the wrong song. Try singing the old one and they soon enough stop you.

  • stuart.steedman - 2012-06-17 13:58

    Really, anthems should be in the public domain. Ridiculous.

  • Sekwati - 2012-06-17 15:53

    somebody in government is quiet aware of this believe me...someone must be fired...

      ivan.plooy - 2012-06-17 16:49

      Who ever it may be in the ANC Government is obviously receiving a Black Merc or Bmw plus a few more benefits.

  • tony.kirby1 - 2012-06-17 16:19

    Would not be surprized if the odd company/persons attached to L/house in JHB are collecting the momey.

  • Andrew - 2012-06-22 14:05

    Owen Dean (intellectual property law at Stellenbosch) on sê die volgende: The only persons who can claim rights in, or royalties (from) the current national anthem are the heirs of M L de Villiers for use of the melody of Die Stem, and Jean Rudolph, for the use of the English words in the national anthem and the use of the anthem as a composite. Nkosi is not a national cash cow from which the South African Government can, or ought to, derive wealth. Nor does it belong to anyone else. It may be part of our heritage but it is free for use for all. No one, not the South African Government nor the 61 pretenders, can monopolise or appropriate it.

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