Deaf girl Lisa Mkandla, 12, shines in historic and mesmerizing national anthem performance

Singer KB Motsilanyane and Mmatlou Moloto with 12-year-old Lisa Mkandla, who performed the South African national anthem in sign language.

Singer KB Motsilanyane and Mmatlou Moloto with 12-year-old Lisa Mkandla, who performed the South African national anthem in sign language.

Published Jul 8, 2024


Loftus Versfeld Stadium witnessed a mesmerising moment on Saturday as 12-year-old Lisa Mkandla, a pupil at St Vincent School for the Deaf, singer KB Motsilanyane and 60,000 Springbok fans gave South Africans goosebumps after the passionate rendition of Nkosi Sikelele iAfrika.

It was the first time South Africa witnessed the rendition of the national anthem by South African Sign Language at a sports event.

The rendition of the national was so emphatic that KB stopped singing towards the end and allowed the fans to sing on their own. The noise was electric.

The feeling of national pride emanating from Pretoria was also a special moment as KB performed in South African Sign Language with the 12-year-old deaf pupil.

In May last year, South African Sign Language became the country’s 12th official language after a year-long process in Parliament. South Africa became the fourth country in Africa to recognise sign language.

According to Nenio Mbazima, the director of Strong Winds, a company that provides sign language and interpretation services for government and private institutions, it was the first time a deaf person performed the anthem in sign language at a major sports event in South Africa.

Mkandla was accompanied by her interpreter, Mmatlou Moloto, but the 12-year-old’s performance was not just about the anthem, it was about representation and inclusion.

“Lisa's performance was met with overwhelming applause and admiration from the audience, transcending language barriers and uniting the crowd in a shared sense of patriotism.

“For many in the South African deaf community, this moment was a profound acknowledgment of their culture and language, fostering a sense of inclusion and representation,” said Mbazima.

After the game, Mkandla and Mmatlou met KB Motsilanyane and Springbok captain Siya Kolisi and took pictures together, with the Boks captain smiling and using the “I love you” sign.

Lisa Mkandla, centre and Mmatlou Moloto, right, at the Loftus Versfeld Stadium with Springbok captain Siya Kolisi, use the sign “ I love you”. Picture: Supplied

KB Motsilanyane expressed her admiration for Nkandla, saying: “You are so amazing to work with. It was such a pleasure to have shared the moment with you.”

Moloto shared her excitement on Instagram, posting, “What an amazing event. The National Anthem was an iconic feat. @mamosadikb, our Sign Language signer, Little Lisa & Sign Language Interpreter @t.l.o.w.i.e. Shout Out to @moonsport_ #SpringboksVstreland.”

Lisa may be 12, but her inspiring performance has paved the way for greater recognition and celebration of deaf culture in South Africa.

Little Lisa Mkandla has shown us all the power of unity and the importance of giving everyone a voice.