A gospel-influenced house song about Jerusalem and faith has become a global phenomenon over the past year, received over 260 million views on YouTube (and counting), and inspired a viral social media challenge for decidedly viral times.
“Jerusalema,” by South African artists Master KG and Nomcebo Zikode, features Zulu lyrics and speaks of salvation, home and togetherness, with Jerusalem as an embodiment of such yearnings.
The song lifted global spirits darkened by the pandemic and inspired the “Jerusalema dance challenge,” which saw people across the world sharing clips of the same choreography in various settings.
Front-line medical workers, soldiers, stiff-limbed clergymen, diners at swanky European restaurants and even the Cape Town Philharmonic Orchestra — everyone seemed to want to shake a leg.
“The feedback was crazy,” says 24-year-old Master KG, who co-wrote and performs the disco-house track with Zikode.
Lucius Banda, organizer of the annual Sand Music Festival on the shore of Lake Malawi, says “Jerusalema” became a “Covid anthem” — a source of joy at grim times.
The chart-topping song bagged the Best African Act at this year’s MTV European Music Awards.
“We are exceptionally proud of our ambassadors… representing our motherland in such a unifying and unprecedented manner,” tweeted South Africa’s arts and culture minister, Nathi Mthethwa.
A remix featuring Nigerian star Burna boy was recently awarded diamond status in France for clocking 35 million streams since its release in June.
The words mean “Jerusalem is my home, guard me, walk with me, do not leave me here — Jerusalem is my home, my place is not here, my kingdom is not here.”
German musician Rafael Loopro, who recently performed at Malawi’s Sand Festival alongside Master KG, lamented the effects of the coronavirus pandemic on live music performances.
“I was saying to [Master KG] that I was sorry that this song became big this time because he could have been playing all over the world.
“But he didn’t even know that the song was on number one in Germany,” Loopro said, adding that the last time an African song had topped the charts in his country was three decades ago.