South Africa's Lungi Ngidi, centre, celebrates with teammate South Africa's Rassie van der Dussen after taking the wicket of England's Jos Buttler. Picture: AP
South Africa's Lungi Ngidi, centre, celebrates with teammate South Africa's Rassie van der Dussen after taking the wicket of England's Jos Buttler. Picture: AP

Our national anthem is far from fair

THE FIRST inspiring moment of cricket's World Cup has provided context to rightful calls for Australia to have a more inclusive national anthem.

Can't argue with that one.

The South African anthem at least tries to throw a net over the many exotic flavours of the rainbow nation.

It starts in Xhosa, moves into Zulu, Sesotho and Afrikaans before finishing with a final rousing flourish in English.

It should be clunky but it somehow works.

As the camera moved down the line there were players of Pakistan, Afrikaans and African extraction singing it with commitment or at least closing their eyes and narrowing their focus and floating away in the moment.

South Africa's Lungi Ngidi, centre, celebrates with teammate South Africa's Rassie van der Dussen after taking the wicket of England's Jos Buttler. Picture: AP
South Africa's Lungi Ngidi, centre, celebrates with teammate South Africa's Rassie van der Dussen after taking the wicket of England's Jos Buttler. Picture: AP

The reason the South African anthem is so inclusive is because, after the harrowing apartheid era, it simply had to be.

South Africa has many horrendous sins of the past but at least it faces up to them.

Australia, meanwhile, makes all its noise about reconciliation yet it still goes with a song written by a Scotsman and first performed back in 1878 when indigenous Australians were treated like outcasts.

In the same year the anthem was first sung 75 Indigenous Australia's were slaughtered in a "dispersal'' in North Queensland.

The first simple chastening fact about the anthem is its title … Advance Australia Fair.

Fair? How do you reckon that title sits with children of the stolen generation?

And then there is fact that the prime purpose of an anthem should be to unify a nation.

It should be bring a country together not tear it apart.

If Indigenous players have an issue with the anthem then it is not working as it should.

Sometimes you wonder whether Advance Australia Fair was ever truly a song embraced by Australians as it needed to be.

The 1977 referendum which chose it was hardly a landslide vote in its favour.

Advance Australia Fair got 43 per cent of the vote compared to 28 per cent for Waltzing Matilda.

Ten years before that vote, Indigenous Australians were finally given the right to vote in a referendum.

As much as Advance Australia Fair is criticised for being outdated, songs of bygone eras don't have to have grow grey whiskers.

 

 

The exceptional New Zealand anthem, God Defend New Zealand, was written in the 1870s yet somehow when it is sung at All Blacks Tests it still raises the roof and the hairs on the back on your neck.

And you don't have to be a Kiwi to feel that way.

Significantly, the song has Maori verses which give it not just necessary credibility but extra enchanting flavours.

The origins of God Save the Queen have been traced back to 1744 yet the song is still a showstopper.

The jury is also out on how truly stirring Advance Australia is.

I'm not sure about you but when it comes to songs about Australia that grab my heartstrings it does not make the podium behind Waltzing Matilda, We Are Australian and I Still Call Australia home (first reserve is My Island Home).

But that's not the issue here.

It's not about you or me.

It's about embracing everybody. And it's time to change.

 

Maroons coach Kevin Walter. Picture: Adam Head
Maroons coach Kevin Walter. Picture: Adam Head

 

GOOD: The debate over Kevin Walters use of a coach whisperer in State of Origin. No matter what the merit of the move it has enriched the narrative of the series. What is Origin without controversy?

BAD: James Roberts soft mid-season bailout to South Sydney. The easy option for all involved. He would have been a bitter, bigger man if he has stayed and fought for his future.

UGLY: As in the ugly truth. Some journalists watching the Adam Goodes documentary this week were so disturbed by it they found its physically uncomfortable to sit through.