The cocacola-isation of “Waving Flag”

K’naan is one of my favourite artists. I have missed seeing him in concert twice, once in Detroit and another time in Uganda (K’naan if you’re listening, you need to go on tour again).  I think he is one of a minority of artists that speaks to the experiences of those of us that don’t ride escalades, choke bitches and brush our teeth with Jack Daniels. So I was really excited to hear that one of his songs had been chosen for the Coca Cola World Cup 2010 anthem (also because I cannot stand that Akon/Keri Hilson travesty, cannot stand it!)

That being said, I really enjoyed Waving flag in its original incarnation. The lyrics to the “Celebration mix” version of Waving Flag read like a tooth left in Coca Cola overnight (see what I did there?)


Born to a throne, stronger than Rome
But Violent prone, poor people zone
But it’s my home, all I have known
Where I got grown, streets we would roam

But out of the darkness, I came the farthest
Among the hardest survival
Learn from these streets, it can be bleak
Accept no defeat, surrender retreat

So we struggling, fighting to eat and
We wondering when we’ll be free
So we patiently wait, for that fateful day
It’s not far away, so for now we say

What kind of African are you if those lyrics don’t strike some vertebrae in your spinal column like a drum that has long lain dormant? It just adds so much more to the chorus that says “when I get older […] they will call me freedom”.

And then the second verse actually calls our many useless and self-serving  leaders to account. They say “Love is the answer[…] but look how they treat us“.

So many wars, settling scores
Bringing us promises, leaving us poor
I heard them say, love is the way
Love is the answer, that’s what they say,
But look how they treat us, make us believers
We fight their battles, then they deceive us

Try to control us, they couldn’t hold us
Cause we just move forward like Buffalo Soldiers

Now compare that with the “celebration mix” which talks about those tired and empty clichés of being united by soccer and celebration. BOO COCA COLA, BOO! HISS! GET OFF THE FIELD!

*ahem…  point is I am torn by Waving Flag. On the one hand it’s K’naan and it’s damn catchy, on the other… well, see above. But at least it’s not that “Oh Africa” nonshmense. Man, I hate that song.

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3 thoughts on “The cocacola-isation of “Waving Flag”

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