Tuesday 14 June 2011

Shosholoza: Moving Fast, Moving Strong

For anyone who watched the 2010 Soccer World Cup held in South Africa last year the sight and sound of the vuvuzela became commonplace. As Bafana Bafana ran onto the field for the opening game of the tournament, the buzzzzz surrounding the vuvuzela was almost drowned out by a song, traditionally sung under times of hardship, but now the unofficial sports anthem of the New South Africa. I like to think of it as my writing anthem: when the going gets tough...sing Shosholoza for motivation!

The power of this song gave Bafana Bafana an unexpected victory, just as it pushed the underdogs South Africa to another unexpected victory in the 1995 Rugby World Cup. Against the might and experience of the New Zealand All Blacks, Captain Francois Pienaar led his Amabokkebokke team to a thrilling victory because of two things: the wisdom of President Nelson Mandela who, to roars of approval from the emotional crowd, walked onto the field wearing the previously hated Springbok jersey, and the sound of forty-four million South Africans of all colours singing Shosholoza with all their heart and soul across the nation. This was more than a rugby game; it was a new beginning, one requiring much hard work and commitment (and a miracle or two!) in a land filled with hope for the future.

Left: Many of my childhood Sundays were spent at the mine sports fields of the Free State goldfields, supporting my Dad's team leaders as they competed in the traditional Gumboot Dance, singing Shosoloza.

And so this song of encouragement had made a momentous journey: from the train journeys of the migrant workers leaving home to work in the faraway goldfields of South Africa, to inspiring Nelson Mandela during his long years of imprisonment and, finally, to the sports fields of a new South Africa.

Shosholoza is the rhythm of a nation hard at work and you can sing along to the video performed by the Drakensberg Boys Choir below:
Shosholoza, shosholoza (Moving fast, moving strong)
Ku lezontaba (Through those mountains)
Stimela sphuma eSouth Africa (Train from South Africa)
Wenu yabaleka (You are leaving)
Wenu yabaleka (You are leaving)
Ku lezontaba (Through those mountains)
Stimela siphum' eSouth Africa (Train from South Africa)

Gumboot Dancer Image from Travelling Fiesta


Birdie said...

That is truly awesome. Music is such a powerful medium in bringing people together.

Anonymous said...

Noyt sure why I cannot log onto my acocunt...
This post brought me goose bumps when I read it... I LOVE SOUTH AFRICA... When my husband and I were living in Malawi... for the first two years we refused to visit S.A thinking that they had not changed much and that we were against their old ways... but then when I was pregnant with my boy in 2004, we decided to go down with our South African friends and we met them in Cape Town, one of my favorite places in the world... I fell in love with it and its people and so did my husband... we were thrilled that we took that trip as it revealed to us that our previous views of the place need to be shed... we visited Robin Island... and another 'slave' cave... and we admired the Afrikaans for being so open and honest about what happened... we admired the people and how they made a nation ONE... that was why I had to dedicate one of my posts (Invictus) to SA…I love that song Shosholoza and while reading your post it was ringing in my ears. I hope that one day my mother's land will become one and the apartheid there would cease to exist.

Elliot Grace said...

...Judy, I forwarded this post on to my wife, who's best friend from high school now lives with her family in Tanzania. They've adopted two children from the area, and along with their other three kids, run the youth ministries in their church. It's videos like the one above that urge people to do more...to help.

Great post,


Damaria Senne said...

I hope you keep moving forward and you remain strong, Judy. Oh, and for offering a translation. Mkaes it easy to pass the song to non-Zulu speaking friends.

Anonymous said...

Very intense and healing. I remember watching a movie based on this situation.

Claire Robyns said...

Oh, got goosebumps just picturing the song sung a the stadium - it really is one of the strongest anthems I've come across yet. The voices of Africa also have such strength, depth, tone and natural musical talent. Thanks for sharing this, Judes

Helen Ginger said...

Fabulous song. Loved the kids and loved the drummers. Made me want to get up and dance.

Judith Mercado said...

May the joy on those boys' faces be translated into a way of life for them and the world. May their harmony smooth any harshness life brings as they navigate the separateness the world may impose on them. May through them love find its way to all of us.

Judy Croome | @judy_croome said...

BIRDIE: Music really does cross barriers and soothes and heals. Hope your Mom is having a good day and you find the music in your heart to help you through this time.

TABOULEH: I never realised you’d actually been here with hubby! It’s a great country with so much potential – 1994 elections were so special in that they showed how clashing cultures and peoples can learn to live together (not without hiccups and stresses as we learn about each other, but slowly –with time and tolerance and love – we’re getting to that place of peace. Deo volente, that time will come to the tormented Middle East as well.

ELLIOT: Hope your wife enjoys it – I love this version, the boys are relishing the whole performance, it’s a delight to see. Your foster work is inspiring – like seeks like, and your wife and her friend are clearly have the same good hearts! :)

DAMARIA: More like standing still (exhausted!) at the moment, but hopefully will soon get moving again!

PAUL: I do find music (particularly chants – the Gayatri mantra had a profound effect on me) incredibly soothing and healing. Shosholoza is a song that inspires and uplifts and encourages. The movie you saw was Invictus – excellent portrayal of the times.

CLAIRE: This must have made you a wee bit homesick?

HELEN: Hope you did dance along – it’s that kind of song!

JUDITH: What a beautiful blessing; I can only endorse every word you’ve said!

CA Heaven said...

Yes, for sure, I watched the 2010 World Cup. Unfortunately, there's no WC this year.

Cold As Heaven

Judy Croome | @judy_croome said...

COLD: There's a rugby world cup coming up later this year in New Zealand...I know it's not soccer, but still...:)

Nas said...

Hi Judy,

Music is the universal language of love. I loved your awesome post. Thanks for sharing.

And as for Rugby, that's when our small country's name gets BIG exposure! And we all stay glued to the live TV broadcasting rugby!

And I won the Week 3 Goodie bag! Yaay!

Judy Croome | @judy_croome said...

NAS: As some other writer said...if music be the food of love, play on! :) And, of course, in South African minds the word FIJI = RUGBY (as in HUGE, hunky rugby players!) And, yes, you won Week 3 goody bag which is on its way to you - hope you enjoy! :)

A Cuban In London said...

I love the beat. It's contagious. I've already watched/listened to the clip a couple of times. I didn't know the back story to the song so thanks a mill for bringing it to our attention. Beautiful post.

Greetings from London.

Judy Croome | @judy_croome said...

CUBAN: The song *is* contagious - you can see how that driving beat gets into the blood from the look on the young boys faces.

Hilary said...

Hi Judy .. I love the African rythyms and this rendition of the gumboot dance is superb - the Drakensburg choirs are always gorgeous to listen to .. music is certainly uplifting .. love it.

I brought back a book on mine dances published by the Chamber of Mines sometime when .. and had always thought I'd love to do a post on them sometime .. but much better to hear from someone who knows that culture and land so much better than me!

Thanks Judy .. lovely to read about the the vuvuzulas certainly attracted attention and in some neightbourhoods couldn't fail to do so! Cheers and hope you had a lovely day yesterday .. and a good weekend .. Hilary

Judy Croome | @judy_croome said...

HILARY: we went to a show at the school once - such a wonderful experience to hear this talented choir singing against the backdrop of the magnificent Drakensberg mountains.