The Long and Ambivalent Genesis of “Waka Waka,” the Cameroonian Military Theme Song Shakira Pilfered for Her World Cup Anthem


Note the chanting.

Ace critic Jeff Chang points us to the never-less-than-prescient blog of local freeform radio titans WFMU, where one intrepid writer traces the origins of “Waka Waka”–the song now famous for providing the base text for Shakira’s official/abysmal World Cup anthem “Waka Waka (This Time For Africa).” (The station did this in March, by the way, before Shakira’s song was a even glimmer in FIFA’s eye. The lesson, as always? Respect WFMU.) Anyway, the tale begins in Senegal, and proceeds backwards through Liberia, Santo Domingo, Suriname, Holland, meandering all the way to the ’80s, where the song first surfaced as a Cameroonian marching tune. Though it turns out that no one really knows what the words mean. Want to know if “Waka Waka” has gotten better with age? Let’s A-B it with Shakira’s current version:

First, Shakira:

Next, the earliest recorded version, featuring some iteration of the 1980s Cameroonian military:

As usual, we’ll take the one that hasn’t already gone through the ‘ol frog-sex filter.

Around the World… Waka Waka Hey Hey! [WFMU/Beware of the Blog]