The world fell in love with Kenya’s hauntingly beautiful national anthem at the Rio Olympics

Kenya’s gold medal winner Eliud Kipchoge.
Kenya’s gold medal winner Eliud Kipchoge.
Image: AP/Matt Dunham
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Kenya’s national anthem caught the world’s attention as long distance runner Eliud Kipchoge took the stage at the Rio Olympics to receive his first Olympic gold medal for winning the men’s marathon.

The tune, which played for the sixth time at the Olympics stadium in Rio de Janeiro, was described as “epic” and “a genuinely well-written piece of music.”

Kenya’s anthem was written before the country’s independence in 1963 by an advisory committee. The anthem is composed of three stanzas, and the opening verses are a prayer for the country to “dwell in unity, peace and liberty.” The rest of the verses emphasize patriotism, justice and service to the land.

The patriotic tune, which attracted listeners, was adopted  from a lullaby from Kenya’s Pokomo community. It was then composed for the anthem by one Mzee Meza Moroa Galana.

This is not the first time that Kenyans have rejoiced in the world affirming the melodiousness of their anthem. Many people have imitated the song in the past. A few months ago, a video of American students singing the national song was widely shared on Facebook and Twitter.

Kipchoge’s win and the world’s collective embrace of the national anthem capped a successful but contentious Olympic run for Kenya. Several corruption and doping allegations dogged the team on the buildup to the Rio Olympics this year. Kenya also won 13 medals in Rio, making it their most successful Olympics in its history.