Sikelela Tapes

  • Luke Johnstone, Tsogo Kupa, Djibril Cullis, Matthijs Vuijk, Alex Sono
  • South Africa
  • 2020
  • 18 min
  • European Premiere
  • Frontlight

In this lively collage of fiction, animation, and YouTube videos, rich in references to South Africa’s past and present, five young students from the film department of Wits University in Johannesburg examine their personal relationship with the national anthem. Its lyrics are in five languages, which are reflected in the film. But what does it mean if you don’t understand your own national anthem?, one of the students wonders. He can speak the language of the Queen, but not of his own grandmother, and laments that his grandfather felt like a foreigner in his own country.

Combining their diverse experiences, the film students remix the complex South African identity and give it their own twist. They each choose their own perspective and film language. An energetic radio DJ declares that you can’t unscramble an omelette. He links the fragments and brings the different voices together. The title refers to the first line of the South African national anthem, Nkosi sikelel’ iAfrika, which means “God bless Africa.”


  • 18 min
  • color / black and white
  • DCP
  • Spoken languages: Afrikaans, Zulu, English, Dutch, Setswana, Tsonga
  • Subtitles in: English
Luke Johnstone, Tsogo Kupa, Djibril Cullis, Matthijs Vuijk, Alex Sono
Nobunye Levin for WITS School of Arts
Matthijs Vuijk
Luke Johnstone, Tsogo Kupa
Alex Sono, Tsogo Kupa, Luke Johnstone, Alex Sono, Djibril Cullis

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