Thursday 12 December 2013

How “Aberystwyth” inspired Nelson Mandela and the African Liberation Movement

As the world celebrates the life and death of the “giant of history”, Tata Nelson “Madiba” Mandela, it is worth reminding our readers how the musical legacy of a son of Wales inspired Mandela and South Africa’s liberation movement. Dr Joseph Parry, a Professor of Music at Aberystwyth University, wrote the hymn “Aberystwyth” in 1879. It was this hymn which inspired Enoch Sontoga, a Methodist teacher who composed “Nkosi Sikelel iAfrika” (Lord bless Africa), to the tune of Parry’s “Aberystwyth” in 1897. Nkosi Sikelel iAfrika later became a symbol of African unity and the national anthems of South Africa, Zambia, Tanzania, Namibia and Zimbabwe.

The Joseph Parry Hall, near the Old College, was named after the composer and you can find works by him in our Celtic Collection in the Hugh Owen Library.

Sahm Nikoi.

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