South Africans search for a song they can sing together

A CALLER to Radio Zulu yesterday morning said that South Africa's new flag, the design of which has become a subject of hot national debate, should evoke the pride the Union Jack does - or at least did - among the British.

In 1879, the caller recalled, the Zulus crushed the British at the Battle of Isandhlwana. The conquering Zulu army, not content with disembowelling the 800 dead redcoats, made off with their flag. It was the zeal to recover the flag, the caller explained, that spurred the British to heap great slaughter on the Zulu nation and eventually win the war.

Yesterday, 'national symbols' was on the agenda of the multi-party Negotiating Council. It studied submissions by a special commission appointed to choose a new flag and national anthem. The debate turned out to be symbolic of the council's broader task of considering peace-keeping, a new constitution and elections, and of its difficulties.

Of 7,000 flag designs entered by the public to the Symbols Commission, the one selected for presentation to the council was predominantly green and gold with smatterings of red, white and blue conveyed in the form of small triangles. Described variously as 'a lavatory tile', 'wrapping paper' and plain 'awful', it was nevertheless an improvement on the skull and crossbones, coffin and 30 pieces of silver option proposed by one particularly embittered white entrant.

As for the anthem, the commission suggested that both the liberation movement's Nkosi Sikelele iAfrika (God bless Africa) and the Afrikaners' Die Stem (the Call) should be recognised for a five- year period. African National Congress (ANC) delegates at the council complained that Die Stem was 'a hymn to conquest and domination', right- wingers that Nkosi Sikelele was 'a song for terrorists'.

Three possible compromises were put forward: one to blend the two tunes, selecting the words according to their political correctness; another to play Nkosi Sikelele at black occasions, such as soccer matches, Die Stem at white occasions, such as rugby matches; and finally, to adopt a brand-new anthem composed by a certain Shalati Joseph Khosa containing the uplifting, if far from melodic, words, 'in one accord we shall sow the seed, the good seed of unity'.

Sniping from the sidelines, the Conservative Party, who withdrew from the Negotiating Council in July, said they would 'not stand to attention for a flag and anthem forced on us by aliens'. The leader of the like-minded Boerestaat Party, Robert van Tonder, suggested that the only solution would be to adopt a flag 'with white and black spots, which reflects the variety of colours in the country, with a Coca-Cola bottle in the middle to symbolise South Africa's new status as an American vassal state'.

The council concluded the day in traditional fashion. Unable to agree on anything, they referred the matter to the Planning Committee, otherwise known to veteran negotiators as 'the black hole'.

FootballGerman sparks three goals in four minutes at favourite No 10 role
Rumer was diagnosed with bipolarity, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and post-traumatic stress disorder: 'I was convinced it was a misdiagnosis'
peopleHer debut album caused her post-traumatic stress - how will she cope as she releases her third record?
A long jumper competes in the 80-to-84-year-old age division at the 2007 World Masters Championships
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Radamel Falcao was forced to withdraw from the World Cup after undergoing surgery
premier leagueExclusive: Reds have agreement with Monaco
Arts and Entertainment
'New Tricks' star Dennis Waterman is departing from the show after he completes filming on two more episodes
tvOnly remaining original cast-member to leave long-running series
Life and Style
Walking tall: unlike some, Donatella Versace showed a strong and vibrant collection
fashionAlexander Fury on the staid Italian clothing industry
Arts and Entertainment
Gregory Porter learnt about his father’s voice at his funeral
Arts and Entertainment
tvHighs and lows of the cast's careers since 2004
Life and Style
Children at the Leytonstone branch of the Homeless Children's Aid and Adoption Society tuck into their harvest festival gifts, in October 1936
food + drinkThe harvest festival is back, but forget cans of tuna and packets of instant mash
Lewis Hamilton will start the Singapore Grand Prix from pole, with Nico Rosberg second and Daniel Ricciardo third
F1... for floodlit Singapore Grand Prix
New Articles
Life and Style
Couples have been having sex less in 2014, according to a new survey
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Volunteer Trustee opportunities now available at The Society for Experimental Biology

Unpaid Voluntary Position : Reach Volunteering: Volunteer your expertise as Tr...

Early Years Educator

£68 - £73 per day + Competitive rates of pay based on experience: Randstad Edu...

Nursery Nurse

£69 - £73 per day + Competitive London rates of pay: Randstad Education Group:...

Primary KS1 NQTs required in Lambeth

£117 - £157 per day + Competitive London rates: Randstad Education Group: * Pr...

Day In a Page

Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

Scrambled eggs and LSD

Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

New leading ladies of dance fight back

How female vocalists are now writing their own hits
Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
How to make a Lego masterpiece

How to make a Lego masterpiece

Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam