The music: Nicaragua’s anthem, ‘Salve a ti (Hail to thee) Nicaragua’, is a dull military march dressed up with a few cymbal crashes. Which probably explains why a lot of Nicaraguans don’t bother listening to it and instead go for the dance remix (above). How their decision has gone down with the country’s classical music fans is anyone’s guess.
The lyrics: Nicaragua has a history that reads like a thriller: colonization, civil wars, Communist takeovers, US invasions. Fortunately, not even the anthem is spared the excitement.
The words were written by Salomón Mayorga, a poet who founded an anti-government newspaper in the 1910s, got beaten up for his troubles and promptly joined a guerilla movement. He wasn’t very good at it; he was quickly caught and exiled to Haiti.
In 1918, while there, he entered a contest for new lyrics to Nicaragua’s anthem and won.
I presume no one in the government noticed who it was. Saying that, his lyrics are so positive (“Let nothing dim your immortal glory”), they probably couldn’t have turned him down.
His anthem was also a plea for peace following years of trouble. “Hail to thee, Nicaragua,” it starts, “on thy land roar canons no more, nor does the blood of brothers stain your glorious flag.” It didn’t work. Further trouble meant his words weren’t officially adopted for over 20 years.
What does it say about the country? That it considers words more important than music.
Will you hear it at the Olympics? It would take the greatest of upsets for it to happen. Nicaragua has only sent a handful of people to past Games and half of those have been in baseball – a sport that has been unceremoniously dumped from London’s program.