No Pata Pata

09/06/20Angélique Kidjo Collaborates With UNICEF On New Version Of Miriam Makeba's Defiantly Joyful 1967 Hit Song

In 1985, the star-studded supergroup USA for Africa – initiated by Harry Belafonte and led by Michael Jackson, Lionel Richie as well as iconic producer Quincy Jones – released its global charity anthem "We Are The World", which went on to sell over 20 million copies and raise over $75 million to combat famine in Africa. The song was remade in 2010 to benefit the earthquake-ridden Republic of Haiti. This year, Lionel Richie suggested recording a third version of the song as a show of global solidarity in face of the global COVID-19 pandemic, which he recently performed alongside a cast of "American Idol" alumni on the occasion of the American reality show's 18th season finale. 

Flashback to 1967, when the late, great and exiled South African icon Miriam Makeba, alias 'Mama Africa', released her hit song "Pata Pata" and took the world by storm. Not only was she a groundbreaking performer, she was also a visible and outspoken civil rights activist, an active opponent of the apartheid regime and a Goodwill Ambassador to the United Nations. 'Phatha' translates to a 'light touch' in the Xhosa language, as "Pata Pata" quite literally went on to touch millions of people around the globe and has since been labeled "the world's most defiantly joyful song" though Makeba herself described it as one of her "most insignificant songs" in her 1987 autobiography "My Story".

A few weeks ago, the internationally renowned Beninese singer, songwriter, actress and activist Angélique Kidjo announced a remake of Miriam Makeba's ubiquitous tune to spread awareness in light of the ongoing global COVID-19 pandemic, including lines such as: "It's time to sit it out! This is no-phatha-phatha ... Stay at home and wait it out … We need to keep our hands clean … Don’t touch your face, keep distance please." Kidjo's modified version was met with an overwhelming response and UNICEF decided to take things one step further, calling out the global public to submit videos of themselves dancing to the song, tagging @UNICEFAfrica and adding the hashtag #NoPataPata.

UNICEF went on to receive submissions from countries such as Australia, Austria, Cameroon, Ethiopia, Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, Burundi, Zambia, Zimbabwe, Mozambique, Eswatini, Malawi, UK, Italy, Spain, Portugal, Russia, Nigeria, Slovenia, Slovakia, USA, India, UAE, Philippines, Japan, Senegal as well as Makeba’s homeland of South Africa and Kidjo’s Benin. A handful of videos were selected and now appear in a recently released official music video, starring United Nations Goodwill Ambassador Angélique Kidjo herself, singing and dancing from her home in Paris.

"Miriam brought joy to the world wherever she went,” says Kidjo, “but she also shared knowledge and hope. Fifty years later, Pata Pata has again showed its immense power and love. Reaching the poorest and most remote with our new radio track was so important; equally so, was sharing some joy, which is what people have done in making this music video." The video made its global debut earlier this month by kicking off UNICEF USA's virtual "UNICEF Won't Stop" event before an online audience in excess of 100 million, in an attempt to raise funds to provide lifesaving resources for children during COVID-19. Maybe this time around, the working title could be "Africa for the World".

AUTHOR: Lev Nordstrom