When Colombian pop star Shakira attempted to pass the 2010 official World Cup anthem off as hers, saying she was inspired on a return from a barn to her home, many people online found the claim to be curious.
Curious because in 1986, the Golden Sounds, a group made of Cameroon’s President guards formed in 1984, recorded a tune called Zangalewa. The song became an instant hit across Africa and beyond prompting the group to rename itself Zangalewa.
The song supposedly was made for African soldiers who fought to liberate Europe from being colonized by the German force in 1945 (Cameroonian riflemen who took part in the Second World War). It was also directed towards African soldiers who seized power and oppressed their people in the interest of colonial forces on the continent.
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Released shortly after television found its way in the country, viewers took interest in the song for its danceable rhythm and also for the dance moves and costume of the singers. They would often wear military clothes, stuffing clothes so their stomachs and appear ridiculously big from riding trains or eating too much, African Brew explained.
When Shakira released a rendition of the song in 2010 – Waka Waka (This Time for Africa) – without permission from Zangalewa, it led to, according to reports, an online campaign for the African group to be duly compensated over issues of copyright and plagiarism.
The beat and the melody, particularly the chorus, heard in Shakira’s Waka Waka are all very similar to the original version Zangalewa. The online pressure yielded fruit in May 2010 when Sony, Shakira’s management and members of the group, Zangalewa, reached an out-of-court settlement.
The music video for Waka Waka (This Time for Africa) directed by Marcus Raboy remains popular on YouTube, receiving 2.5 billion views as of May 2020.
Waka Waka (This Time for Africa) featuring Zolani Mahola of the South African group Freshlyground peaked at number one on record charts of fifteen countries worldwide. In the United States, it was certified platinum by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) for selling over one million units in the country. It was the biggest song of 2010 in seven countries.
Zangalewa, the Makossa group from Cameroon (Jean Paul Zé Bella, Dooh Belley, Luc Eyebe and Emile Kojidie) released four albums – the one that included the song in question was awarded ‘record of the year’ in Cameroon.
The song was also popular in Colombia where it was known as The Military, brought to the country by West African DJs where Shakira, a native, likely heard the tune.