The world-famous song Pata Pata, a South African dance hit from 1967, is being re-released with new lyrics to spread information about COVID-19 to vulnerable communities.
Meaning “touch touch” in the Xhosa language, Pata Pata was written by Grammy-winning singer Miriam Makeba, who named it after a dance move popular in Johannesburg at the time.
The new version sung by Beninese artist Angelique Kidjo includes lyrics such as: “We need to keep our hands clean, so no Pata Pata... Don’t touch your face, keep distance please and no Pata Pata.”
It was to be played yesterday on more than 15 radio stations across Africa, said the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF), which organized the release.
“It sounds so simple and yet it’s still really difficult to get information out to people in the most remote areas or to people who aren’t online,” UNICEF spokesman James Elder said. “Radio does the trick every time.”
The song is also meant to spread joy in hard times, he said.
It has been called “the world’s most defiantly joyful song” because it represented revelry under apartheid South Africa.
Nicknamed “Mama Africa,” Makeba helped popularize music from the continent worldwide.
She was a friend and mentor to Kidjo, a UNICEF goodwill ambassador and one of the biggest African celebrities of the past decade.
African music suffered a blow last month when Cameroonian jazz icon Manu Dibango died of COVID-19.
“Manu inspired me. Miriam inspired me, and Pata Pata gave me hope,” Kidjo said in a statement. “Pata Pata has always been there for people at a time of struggle. I hope from our confined spaces we can dance once more.”
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