Franli Meintjes's artwork "Our Prayer" was inspired by her love and interest for the people of South Africa. A country with people from different cultures and backgrounds, she is particularly interested in how they interact with each other. Her concern lies with the substantiate increase in the levels of poverty, the palpable racial tension which is evident in our beautiful yet fragile country and the many who are reluctant to cross the bridges of racial, social, cultural and religious divides.
She used the punch needle technique to pierce wool through a cotton weave and fixed strips of rope onto a curtain of thin rope to create a sound wave that was derived from our national anthem "Nkosi Sikelel' iAfrika" - a symbol of our former President, Nelson Mandela's desire that the new government respect all races and cultures. The anthem includes five of the eleven official languages of South Africa: Xhosa, Zulu, Sesotho, Afrikaans and English.
The action of piercing the wool through the woven cotton could be associated with the painful yet integral process of piercing through our prejudice as the people of South Africa.
"Nkosi Sikelel' iAfrika" translated "God bless Africa", became a pan-African liberation song and versions of it were later adopted as the national anthem in South Africa after the end of apartheid.
Lord, bless Africa
May her spirit rise high up
Hear thou our prayers
Lord bless us
Descend, O Spirit
Descend, O Holy Spirit
Lord bless us
According to British musicologist Nicholas Cook the Hymn "Nkosi Sikelel' iAfrika" doesn't just symbolize unity; it enacts it. It lies audibly at the interface between European traditions of common-practice, harmony and African traditions of communal singing, which gives it an inclusive quality entirely appropriate to the aspirations of the new South Africa. To Meintjes, this is significant as she believes there will be no progress in our country unless there is unity.