Let's Waka Waka together!

By Drum Digital
21 June 2010

Love it or hate it, this is the song that has evolved into Waka Waka, Fifa’s official World Cup anthem, and it has been sweeping the globe for several months in the build-up to the tournament.

But for Latin American superstar Shakira, the original version of the song, Zangalewa, has been a favourite since it hit the charts back in 1986 when she was a bright-eyed schoolgirl growing up in the Colombian port of Barranquilla. It was performed by Cameroonian group Golden Sounds and Shakira vividly remembers dancing to the song when she was eight.“Back then I had no idea that so many years later I’d have the chance to dance the same way again,” the singer (now 33) says, speaking to YOU by phone on the eve of the World Cup.

But when Sony asked her to start work on a World Cup anthem she knew exactly what she’d base it on - and the result is the much talked-about collaboration with South African band Freshlyground, Waka Waka (This Time for Africa).

But Shakira believes the critics are missing the point. “Waka Waka is emblematic of what the World Cup is all about - integration,” she explains. “So many cultures are being brought together. There’s Freshlyground singing in isiXhosa and then the part sung by me in Spanish and English. The world is coming together around this one passion and that shows there are really no differences among us. Music unites us and football unites us as well.”

She can’t stop singing the praises of Freshlyground’s lead singer, Zolani Mahola. “She has a great voice and I love her playful spirit. I think we did an amazing collaboration. My favourite part of the song is Zolani’s part,” she says, singing along to the upbeat isiXhosa verse.

Music might be Shakira’s biggest passion, but soccer is a close second these days. “I grew up seeing my brothers in front of the TV rooting for our teams and my boyfriend (lawyer Antonio de la Rúa) is a soccer maniac. He’s in South Africa with me, along with 10 of his closest friends, so there’s no escaping soccer for a woman like me.”

“I’m a huge soccer fan,” Freshlyground’s lead singer Zolani (28) gushes. “Having all the different people coming to the country excites me the most. I’m really looking forward to seeing the united spirit, especially because we really need it at this time.”

“The nice thing about Shakira is she’s not a ‘First World star’. It’s not like she’s this American who knows nothing about how people in developing countries might live. The song is a good union, a good marriage.”

As for the criticism of the song Zolani is unfazed. “For me it’s African and it’s world music because of where the idea for the song comes from. It’s completely from this continent. As South Africans we can’t forget we’re part of the African continent.”

Read our EXCLUSIVE interview in the DRUM of 17 June 2010.

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