Waka effing waka.

Above, for your viewing pleasure, I have embedded a video of a song I am sure everyone in the world is overly familiar with.

Let’s do a little elementary analysis here. This song and the video could both be interpreted as a little insulting to certain people, right? Just a little?

Because “Africa” is just a place, a big ole place where everyone goes around speaking one language (which is apparently Cameroonian pidgin mixed with Swahili?). There are no countries with individual identities, they all speak African, are starving, and wear grass skirts. Anyway, we are “all Africa” so it doesn’t matter.

You have no idea how many times I encounter the “oh I’m going to Africa” conversation, from highly educated people. This being whether they are going to Morrocco or Kenya. Would people say “Oh I’m going to Europe” if they were headed to Paris for the weekend? Oh I’m going to Australasia? Where they speak Australasian? How many people have asked me if I can speak African? Too many.

And this music video helps to cement this blatant ignorance foever more, with one suggestive wiggle of the hips.

So I have to say it really fucking pisses me off that despite the shameless appropriation of about every blatant cliche about Africa that the makers of this song could dredge up, and the fact that they squished actual real live South Africans into the song for only about two seconds, I love it. I still love it, months down the line. I have it on my ipod and it never fails to cheer me up on the way to work. It brings back such sweet memories of the World Cup, which was the highlight of this year, even if I was only enjoying it in proxy.

Phillip, I still miss you.

Taste is a cruel and twisted thing. Waka fucken waka.

eh eh.

If anyone could transcribe or translate what Zolani actually says in the song I would be much obliged, because all I can hear is something about east to west and biggie biggie mama. Do my ears decieve me?


7 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Damaria Senne
    Oct 15, 2010 @ 09:53:10

    sorry Po. I tried to watch the video and got a notice that said: “This video contains content from Vevo, who has blocked it in your country on copyright grounds.”
    But yeah, the song also annoys me because it’s not as original as I’d first thought. One of the bloggers I follow found a video of waka waka being performed, i think in the 70s, by an African military band. Not sure which country. Despite that, I still love Shakira’s version. Can’t trascribe for you though, cos can’t see the video.


  2. Helen
    Oct 15, 2010 @ 10:26:57

    Now it’s stuck in my head again!

    I have mixed feelings about it as I figure, it was fifa, it was huge, and the world would watch anything that they branded as ‘Official Fifa’ and yet they had to bring in Shakira to sing about Africa. I mean really? Personally I thought Freshly Ground’s 2 lines were better than Shakira’s whole song.

    Still catchy though.

    Waka waka


  3. T
    Oct 15, 2010 @ 10:32:40

    I think it becomes a case of appealing to what people find intriguing about Africa, or the stereotypes they are comfortable with. Give me five minutes and I can think up some other nonsense to justify it on their behalf somehow.

    Still don’t bleddy like it though. That girls voice is really not the most amazing in the world and meh! That’s all – MEH!


  4. Shannon
    Oct 15, 2010 @ 12:51:42

    If it makes you feel any better, I do say “I’m going to Europe.” Usually though it’s because Europe is so small (particularly if you’re from the US where one can drive for 14 hours and still be in Texas, for example) that if I’m going, I’m going to at least two or three countries.


  5. Po
    Oct 15, 2010 @ 19:22:07

    Oh sorry Damaria, I have a feeling that the Vevo youtube channel is for the UK only. Crap. I will try to find another link. Yes, I googled the Waka waka song, apparently it is a Cameroonian war song, in Pidgin, and Shakira grew up hearing it in her town in Colombia where it was played by by immigrants. So in a way, the song is what Shakira knew and associated with Africa more than anything.
    Helen: it is flipping infectious and I can’t believe my sad little brain still likes it after all this time. Stoopid brain.
    T: I have heard people describe her voice as a horn, and I can see it. I hang my head in shame when I say I love it, I really do. But there’s nothing I can do about it!
    Shannon: but I would also say I was going to Europe if I was travelling to multiple countries. But a friend at work told me she was going to “Africa” and she gave me this big smile, like, hey, you’re from Africa, and I had to ask her where, and she said Morocco. I think you and I and most people know that Morocco is very different to, say, Zaire, or in fact any other place in Africa. If someone said they were going to “Europe”, I would immediately assume they were going to multiple places. And I most certainly do not think that they speak “European” hahahaha. See, it’s funny when you think of it like that.


  6. Po
    Oct 15, 2010 @ 19:23:24

    P.S sorry I have not been such a good replyer lately, I have moved into our main office at work. I used to have a computer all on my own in the lab, but now I sit next to my boss. I would die if anyone at work found this blog, die I tell you! So I am being a leetle more careful!


  7. Tamara
    Oct 18, 2010 @ 11:11:41

    I have always loathed this song. Purely because Waka Waka means nothing in SA and has no relevance to the World Cup. Also not a Shakira fan, but it is catchy and had me with serious earworm during the SWC.


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