I've officially caught World Cup fever (after seeing this yesterday), and perhaps there's no better way to reflect the joy of this month long festival of sport than through song. Besides food and sport, music is probably the easiest way to begin to immerse ourselves, albeit sometimes superficially, in each others' cultures. I'm not the only one who feels this way. To get in on the fun, head over to the Pop World Cup a game of musical discovery that often reveals something about our own perceptions of different parts of the world.
Also, for an interesting exploration of what hosting the cup means for Africa as a continent, check out some of this two-hour long panel done at The New School in New York recently.
The run up to the cup has seen it's share of controversy, and like the Beijing olympics, there seems to be an anticipatory but critical eye leering at Africa's first hosting of an international gathering. One of those controversies has centered around the FIFA official concert celebration which had booked a slew of international artists, but seemed to leave out local representation in a country that has one of the most interesting musical histories in the world. Of course in a country with such a storied activism, FIFA has since seen the error of their ways and has begun to rectify that and a few more of their mistakes.
Another musically related topic that has drawn criticism is FIFA's choice for the official cup song. The one they've chosen, Shakira's Esto es Africa, (a version of the tune Zangalewa explored here not too long ago) was met with harsh opposition by some. Again, this is working itself out for the best because a South African Kwaito hit is becoming a contender for unofficial song, JR's Show Dem (Make the Circle Bigger):
I think this tune is perfect for a celebratory football atmosphere, and can't wait to see players make the circle bigger after a goal in the cup. While I could probably get carried away with too much drunken optimism, I really dig the message that South Africa is going to show dem (the world) by making its circle bigger. The cup may be taking place in South Africa, but it really is the continent's chance to show the world how bright it can shine.
I just saw and couldn't help but post this performance by Trio Madjesi in 1973. They're wearing Soccer uniforms to celebrate Zaire's 1974 appearance in the World Cup, the first one by a sub-Saharan African team. The song itself is a reference to James Brown's Sex Machine.