Embassy says it was not responsible for anthem singer

Monday, November 16, 2009

Pretoria - The South African Embassy in Paris says it was not responsible for sourcing the singer that rendered the national anthem prior to the Springboks' 20-13 defeat to France, in Toulouse.

"The Embassy affirms that it was not responsible for sourcing, providing or recommending a singer to render the national anthem at the rugby match, and similarly, at any non-government event held in France," a statement form the Embassy said on Monday.

"In all cases, the embassy merely provides information, but is often not in a position to vouch for the bona fides, credentials or competency of any of the parties," it said.

The embassy had come under fire for apparently recommending Durban-born reggae singer Ras Dumisani to sing prior to the match on Friday.

Dumisani subsequently seemed to struggle to remember the words of Nkosi Sikelel' iAfrika, and had to pause a few times.

"In this case, the Embassy had only one name of a South African singer in France and the embassy provided the name of his agent in France to the French Rugby Union," said the Embassy.

It added that this was not a recommendation from the embassy since it had no previous exposure to his performances nor is he a renowned performer.

Dumisani has had to weather a storm of criticism over his rendition of the anthem from various sectors of the country. The singer stumbled and mumbled over the words of the anthem especially the Afrikaans parts and kept gasping for air, singing off tune and pausing.

"The Embassy shares the disappointment of all South Africans on the performance of the singer in his rendition of the National Anthem."

The Embassy also took note of another incident involving its national symbols at the rugby match. In this case the South African Flag was hung the wrong way.

South African diplomats attending the game immediately brought this to the attention of the French authorities but unfortunately, the French authorities indicated that it was too late to correct this.

The Embassy indicated that it would always take the necessary steps to protect and promote South Africa's national symbols.

The National Heritage Council, which has stressed the importance of South Africans being educated about their national anthem, said the majority of South Africans cannot sing the national anthem properly.

"People choose to sing certain verses and mumble the rest", said Chief Executive Officer Sonwabile Mancotywa.

South Africans on the social networking group, Facebook, are also drumming up support for Dumisani never to be allowed to sing again. The group boasts over 800 members.