A South African music track by DJ Master KG with vocals by Nomcebo Zikode is creating excitement across the world in the midst of the gloom caused by the coronavirus pandemic. In fact, it’s the most danced to song in the world right now.
Jerusalema, the Zulu word for Jerusalem, was barely noticed outside of South Africa when it was released on 29 November 2019. The upbeat gospel-influenced song is a lamentation for God to take the singer to the heavenly city Jerusalema, where there’re no more worries.
No doubt it was received well in South Africa as it topped the chart in the country in December 2019. However, it was at beginning of the COVID-19 lockdown in February when a group of Angolan youth danced to it in a choreographed manner and posted the video clip on YouTube, attracting the attention of viewers across the world, that the phenomenon began!
The video that sparked global interest in Jerusalema
A second video clip of Jerusalema dancers emerged from Portugal before the South Africans emulated the dance across social classes and cultural groups, from townships to posh suburbs. It was from that point that the song and its dance began its true global journey.
The uplifting lyrics of the song, in the Zulu language, and its simple dance routine caught the imagination of millions across the world. People from all social classes in different countries did their own Jerusalema dance and also posted it on social media, especially on YouTube, Facebook and Instagram, sparking the global #JerusalemaDanceChallenge.
Clips of dancers to Jerusalema across the globe now include nuns, construction workers, lawyers, medical workers, police officers, soldiers, waiters and fuel attendants, and from Germany to Ghana, Australia to Zimbabwe, from Kenya to Japan.
And celebrities, such as Cristiano and Janet Jackson, have also joined the fray by posting the song on social media. The official video of Jerusalema has already gathered more than 154 million views on YouTube.
Official video of Jerusalema
“It’s so beautiful to see how Jerusalema has taken over the world, to see how far it has gone. The song did amazing at home. It ruled the streets and people created memories of the song,” Master KG, elated by his creation’s global success, said in an interview.
Singer Zikode is also thrilled to see so many people around the world dancing to the song. “God has lifted me up because of the success of this song and everyone is dancing to my voice.”
On Thursday, the Jerusalema dance challenge was endorsed by South African President Cyril Ramaphosa as a morale lifter in a pandemic and a motivator for the hard task of addressing the challenges caused by the public health crisis.
Speaking on the country’s Heritage Day, he urged his citizens to take part in the dance challenge “to reflect on the difficult journey we have all travelled, to remember those who have lost their lives, and to quietly rejoice in the remarkable and diverse heritage of our nation”.
“And there can be no better celebration of our South African-ness than joining the global phenomenon that is the Jerusalema dance challenge.”
The challenge, according to Nigerian musician Burna Boy, who featured on the Jerusalema remix, should be a unifying force for Africa.
“My hope is that it unites us through our divisions and misunderstandings and dance together. We are not in competition, we are one Africa, we are united,” he said.