Shosholoza – Learning Tracks

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Shosholoza is a traditional gold miner’s song from South Africa. The language is a mixture of Zulu and Ndebele and stems from the call and response style used to keep spirits up during the long dark hours. The rhythm represents the repeated swinging of the axes to dig.

Nelson Mandela says he sang it often while on Robben Island and the song has permeated culture to mean any struggle – particularly against Apartheid but also in the sporting arena. Hence it was used in the film Invictus about the 1995 Rubgy World Cup.  It is so popular it is often referred to as South Africa’s second national anthem.

This version is a shortened variation but the basic plan is thus – each voice enters in turn in response to a cantor, and it can build in any direction. The second section, (labelled part B) is often sung a bit quicker and is hard to sing without movement of some kind. You will have to distribute the voices slightly differently to highlight the tunes against the “Wenuya” accompaniment. As with other similar short songs that build the voices we have given you the bare bones and you can make your own version and improvise around the motifs. In the final return section you might hear echoes of the “dig dig digging” tune from section B. Have fun with this iconic song!

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