Voice of 2010

2010-07-10 00:00

“WHEN I get older I will be stronger. They’ll call me freedom, just like a waving flag.” These words from Somali-born hip-hop singer K’naan’s unofficial World Cup anthem Wavin’ Flag have been heard and sung all around the world during the World Cup.

The song has reached number one in 17 countries around the world and has been used as Coca-Cola’s official World Cup track.

K’naan’s latest album, Troubadour, was recorded last year in reggae­ legend Bob Marley’s house in Jamaica and has been received with mixed reactions. But it was the remake of Wavin’ Flag and its seemingly instant rise to fame during the World Cup that catapulted the singer to international superstardom.

K’naan was given an almost hysterical reception when he performed in front of thousands of people at the Durban beachfront fan park before the World Cup semi-final between Uruguay and the Netherlands on Tuesday night.

The Witness caught up with the soft-spoken artist after his show, asking him about the responsibility that comes with being the voice of the World Cup and what the tournament means for Africa.

“Responsibility can either be seen as a burden or a privilege, and I see this responsibility as a privilege,” he said.

“The type of music that we do and the way that the song affects people — it has been pretty remarkable.

“When I’m in public, walking down the streets and I hear people breaking into the song, it’s like being in a constant musical.”

Speaking about what the successful hosting of the tournament means for Africa, K’naan said: “People always talk about what this means for Africa, but I prefer to think about what it means for the world.

“For so long the world has had a tainted view of Africa, filled with stereotypes. Right now the world has found a way to move past these stereo­types and see Africa for what it really is: a unified, dignified place.”

The 2010 Juno Awards Artist and Songwriter of the Year winner said that he doesn’t have a preference as to who he would like to see win the World Cup.

“I hope the team that plays the best wins,” he said.

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