This Time For Africa

This summer’s World Cup in South Africa has been facing more than a few problems in the weeks leading up to the event.  That being said, the last thing the organizers expected was a problem with the tournament’s official anthem recorded by Shakira entitled “Waka Waka (This Time for Africa).

NOTE: The previous “official” video for this release had clips of soldiers marching interspersed with the soccer shots. The new “official” video has replaced the soldier clips with cityscape and people shots and re-edited the entire video.

Collaborating with the popular South African band Freshlyground, the song relies heavily on a Cameroonian song called “Zangalewa” while at the same time misrepresenting itself as Soca music.  The song is commercialized on a number of levels and is too straightforward to be considered Soca, the soul of calypso. 

If you listen to the beginning of the song, it promises to be a Road March with voices crying out, “Soca! Soca!”   In doing this, Africa’s songwriters and artists are dismissed outright as being able to provide music that conveys the true cultural diversity of Africa.  What’s more, there is no calypso in African music. 

While it’s true that Soca incorporates African music into the mix, by blending in music that sounds as if it comes from Zaire or the Congo, the attempt is for the song to sound like Zouk, an entirely different form of Carribean music.  However, the beginning of the song already announced that the song is Soca and to make it something other than Soca doesn’t make sense artistically.  Never mind that it doesn’t make sense to the audience!  What’s worse, is that it continues to negate the difference genres of music that are rooted in Africa.

Africa is a continent; the Carribbean (where Soca originates) is a small group of islands.

The World Cup is being held in South Africa, not in Havana or Santo Domingo or Kingston or San Juan or Port of Spain.  The games will be played in ten separate venues located in Durban; Cape Town; Johannesburg; Pretoria; Port Elizabeth; Bloemfontein; Polokwane; Rustenburg; and, Nelspruit.

Yes, a great many people from the Caribbean are descendant of people from Africa but they have created their own society, different and apart from whence their ancestors first came.   Native Americans (Arawak, Caribs, Tainos), Europeans (Spanish, French, British, Irish, Portuguese, Dutch) and Asians (Chinese, Indian) also populated the islands.  And yet, none of those influences found their way into this song by Shakira even though Asians and Europeans also made their way into Africa.

But what’s most offensive about this song are the lyrics, given the political history in several countries on the continent of Africa.

You’re a good soldier
Choosing your battles.
Pick yourself up
And dust yourself off.
Get back in the saddle.
You’re on the front line
Everyone’s watching.
You know it’s serious.
We’re getting closer;
This isn’t over.

Surely those who remember the civil strife, the armies, the soldiers, the abuses, and so much more that the people on this continent have endured over the decades will see how inappropriate these lyrics are.  Surely there were respected and world renown artists from Africa that could have written and recorded a far better official anthem for the FIFA World Cup 2010.

Perhaps the organizers should have considered some of these other options that the people are touting as the Official Anthem in their opinion.


One Response to “This Time For Africa”

  1. Tweets that mention This Time For Africa « Elyse Bruce -- Says:

    […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Midnight In Chicago . Midnight In Chicago said: What should we think of the World Cup Anthem by Shakira? Does it reflect what it should? Is the song a misfire? […]

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