From Michael Jackson to K’naan: Anthems for the Global Family?

A song that will outlive the games?

FIFA World Cup Football enters its final few days this week, culminating a month of international football at the highest level.

Played across 10 venues in South Africa, this is much more than a sporting tournament. It’s the ultimate celebration of the world’s most popular sport, held once every four years. More popular than the Olympics, it demonstrates the sheer power of sports and media to bring together – momentarily, at least – the usually fragmented and squabbling humanity.

And one upbeat song has characterised this World Cup more than any other: the FIFA World Cup Anthem, “Wavin’ Flag” (The Celebration Mix). Sung by K’naan (born Keinan Abdi Warsame) a Somali-Canadian poet, rapper, singer, songwriter, and instrumentalist.

It opens with these now famous words:

…Singing forever young, singing songs underneath that sun
Lets rejoice in the beautiful game,
And together at the end of the day.
We all say
When I get older I will be stronger
They’ll call me freedom, just like a wavin’ flag…

“Wavin’ Flag” is the third official single (eighth single overall) from K’naan’s Troubadour album. He specially recorded a version of the song for the tournament, hosted by South Africa. The remix of “Wavin’ Flag” is part of Coca-Cola’s global integrated marketing campaign “inspired by the joyous dance celebrations familiar to Africa.”

The song is popping up and pouring out from billions of radio and TV sets, mobile phones, websites and other devices. So much so that I wonder if it might as well be our planetary anthem — an idea that some social activists and artistes have dreamed about for decades?

Last year, shortly after Michael Jackson’s sudden death, I wrote a blog post that looked back at his songs that celebrated social and environmental themes. Referring to one, I said: “…the Earth Song had much wider and more lasting appeal, almost becoming an anthem for the global environmental movement in the past decade. But its real impact was not among the converted – with this song, Jackson took the green message to the heartland of the Facebook generation.”

We can argue about that (please do!). For now, here’s the celebrated song, currently the most popular on the planet:

FIFA Wold Cup Anthem “Wavin’ Flag” (The Celebration Mix) by K’naan

Wavin’ Flag lyrics (Celebration Mix) by K’naan

Ooooooh Wooooooh Ooooooh Wooooooh

Give me freedom, give me fire, give me reason, take me higher
See the champions, take the field now, unify us, make us feel proud
In the streets are, hands are liftin’, as we lose our inhibition
Celebration, its around us, every nations, all around us

Singin’ forever young, singin’ songs underneath that sun
Lets rejoice in the beautiful game
And together at the end of the day

WE ALL SAY

When I get older, I will be stronger
They’ll call me freedom
Just like a wavin’ flag

And then it goes back…And then it goes back…
And then it goes back…And then it goes…

When I get older, I will be stronger
They’ll call me freedom
Just like a wavin’ flag

And then it goes back…And then it goes back…
And then it goes back…And then it goes…

Ooooooh Wooooooh Ooooooh Wooooooh

Give you freedom, give you fire, give you reason, take you higher
See the champions, take the field now, unify us, make us feel proud
In the streets are, hands are lifting, every loser inhibition
Celebration, its around us, every nations, all around us

Singin’ forever young, singin’ songs underneath that sun
Lets rejoice in the beautiful game
And together at the end of the day

WE ALL SAY

When I get older, I will be stronger
They’ll call me freedom
Just like a wavin’ flag

And then it goes back…And then it goes back…
And then it goes back…And then it goes…

When I get older, I will be stronger
They’ll call me freedom
Just like a wavin’ flag

And then it goes back…And then it goes back…
And then it goes back…And then it goes….

Ooooooh Wooooooh Ooooooh Wooooooh

WE ALL SAY

When I get older, I will be stronger
They’ll call me freedom
Just like a wavin’ flag

And then it goes back…And then it goes back…
And then it goes back…And then it goes…

When I get older, I will be stronger
They’ll call me freedom
Just like a wavin’ flag

And then it goes back…And then it goes back…
And then it goes back…And then it goes…

Ooooooh Wooooooh Ooooooh Wooooooh

And everybody will be singin’ it

Ooooooh Wooooooh Ooooooh Wooooooh

And we are all singin’ it

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2 Responses to “From Michael Jackson to K’naan: Anthems for the Global Family?”

  1. anonymouse Says:

    I really like this song cause it moves me a lot. It makes me think how fortunate Iam right now and how poor the other people are. I like men


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