WITH the World Cup kickoff only 34 days away, the mood in South Africa is becoming more and more electrified.

Colourful flags are part of our skyline; fans are fine-tuning their singing and dancing skills and commercial adverts reflect the depth of creativity and talent.

South Africans are rising up and claiming this World Cup as their own.

While die-hard fans have always been wearing their favourite soccer team's kit, it is now the norm for every second person you see to be clad in a Bafana T-shirt.

It is a sight to behold. Something is definitely in the air and if you are not aware of this then there is no hope for you.

So amid the festivity and goodwill some people have found it necessary to contribute to the fever by teaching South Africans to sing the national anthem.

I am really sorry to be a party-pooper, but the campaigns about teaching citizens to sing the national anthem are getting on my nerves.

I have no doubt that the initiators of the various campaigns and competitions have very noble intentions but, for goodness sake, the current amalgamated anthem has been in existence for 16 years. That is close to two decades!

If a people have not bothered to learn Nkosi Sikelel' iAfrika by now, they have no intention of ever learning it.

I have never been a fan of forcing anything down anyone's throat - I have enough problems of my own.

I also am not of the view that not knowing your anthem is a mortal sin. In a democratic country people must choose their own identity and the aspirations they wish to espouse.

It would be disingenuous to suggest that every person who sings or hears the anthem experiences a fiery surge of patriotism.

There are some for whom the anthem is just a jumbled group of words that hold no poignant meaning. So I am not about to suggest that it be compulsory to love the anthem and identify with it.

It would be great if when it is sung we could all momentarily put our differences aside and celebrate our common humanity as South Africans. Certainly it is a powerful symbol of nation building, and I am most delighted that the majority of South Africans have come to embrace and learn this unique anthem.

But there are some among us who have chosen not to identify with the South African anthem, but the beauty of democracy and freedom of choice is that we are all allowed to carve our own identify and choose a different path.

It is really not compulsory to know the words to this beautiful anthem.

After 16 years of democracy I must confess that my senses are more tolerant of South Africans who have decided never to learn the anthem than those who are scrambling about trying to learn it quickly before the start of the World Cup.

Where have they been all this time? It is also so cheesy the way they shut their eyes very tightly as they try to remember the words, and once they are done with their rendition wait with bated breath for the expected applause.

There is an expectation that they must be praised and rewarded like spoilt little brats for their monumental achievement.

Please, give me a break. I wonder if they also go home and make diary entries: "Dear Diary, today was really a great day. I achieved something that I never thought I would achieve.

"Today has taught me that with focus and determination, I can achieve my goals. I feel as if today is the beginning of a new life. I can sing Nkosi Sikelela from beginning to end in all 'the official' languages."

If this change of attitude to our national anthem is coupled with a change of attitude towards the country and its people, then I guess it is something positive.

Resisting change means being stuck in the same dark abyss and missing out on an amazing adventure.

To those who have suddenly fallen in love with the anthem, welcome to our world.

It is better late than never, I guess.