My sister said of the new Shakira World Cup song,
“it’s a weird feeling like she yanked it out of my childhood and thought it’d be fun to play with”
“Zamina” or “Zangaléwa” was a huge hit all over the African continent. Even in English-speaking Zambia where I grew up I remember it playing on the one state-run television channel all the time.
When I was around five or so, the group that wrote this song Golden Sounds (they later changed their name to Zangaléwa after it became such a big hit) came to Zambia to perform. My family went with some other family friends to the Fairgrounds. This must have been my very first concert experience. I can remember vividly that I was wearing a pink corduroy miniskirt and sometime during a break I went with my brother and a couple of the other, slightly older kids to get popcorn. Somewhere along the way me and another little boy from the family we came with got diverted from the popcorn line to the line of kids who were going on to the field/stage to perform.
The next thing I remember we were being told to run, Run! onto the field and me in my tiny pink miniskirt couldn’t run for very long and ended up falling and picking myself up and running some more and crying until mom came to rescue me. Quite pathetic, but amusing to think back on.
Despite my traumatic experience the song always give me a ridiculous amount of joy when I hear it.
“Zangaléwa” pays tribute to the “tirailleurs” of WWII, those African soldiers recruited to fight for European powers for little recompense or honor. The stuffed bums of the men in the video represent the soldiers’ swollen buttocks from riding the trains.
Apparently Shakira and the world cup suits who picked the song did not consult the song’s original authors and are currently “in negotiation” with them to discuss those pesky notions of royalties and permissions.
I think it is worth looking at the song in light of Michael Jackson and Rihanna’s shameless ripping off of Soul Makossa (incidentally also a Cameroonian song), and the current debate about biotechnology giants stealing indigenous herbal knowledge and patenting it as a new pharmaceutical invention with no attribution or compensation.
But let’s not end this post on a sour note:
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