A-List: Shosholoza, South Africa’s expression of unity

ONE is turning to its community of artists, friends, members and staff for their top picks on creative works that have enhanced their knowledge and understanding of the richness of African culture and arts. Today we have a recommendation from ONE’s Khai Tram.

In 2010, I lived and studied in Cape Town for a period of five months, and though I am back stateside, my heart still remains in South Africa. I can’t adequately describe the feeling of being in South Africa for the lead-up to and during the 2010 FIFA World Cup, but the experience was truly formative in many ways. Even now, certain songs from South Africa will trigger a wave of emotion in me that is both profoundly joyful and achingly nostalgic.

Get a taste of Shosholoza, sang by the Drakensberg Boys Choir, in the video clip here:

Shosholoza is one of those songs, the kind that makes your spirit sing and your heart soar. Historically, Shosholoza was a South African folk song that was sung by migrant mineworkers traveling by train to South Africa’s diamond and gold mines. Today, Shosholoza has become South Africa’s unofficial anthem, sung far and wide as an expression of unity and common cause, from the top of Table Mountain down to Green Point Stadium, in the townships and throughout South Africa. I hear Shosholoza most often when I dream of returning to the Mother City, Cape Town, and joining in the chorus. While never forgetting the struggle of South Africa’s mineworkers, I think, for most South Africans, Shosholoza represents a way to, in the words of the song, “Go forward!” When I listen closely to my own heart, I can hear the train coming: Shosholoza.

For a taste of what Shosholoza sounds like at a soccer match, go here.