Socially conscious Somali-Canadian hip-hop artist, songwriter and
protest poet K’naan will stir up the crowds with his global hit “Wavin’
Flag” at the Fifa Fan Fest™ in Port Elizabeth on Friday, July 2.
“Wavin’ Flag”, Coca-Cola’s official anthem for the World Cup, promises
to have St George’s Park echoing with the chorus of “Oh, oh, oh-oh,
ohhh . . .”
Thrilled to be back on African soil, K’naan says, “I’ve been fortunate
to return to the continent on many occasions to do concerts, but this
time it’s special.”
“The energy before the games is special and we manage to capture it and
share it with the audience. I hope the PE crowds leave with a great
As part of the Coca-Cola-sponsored Fifa World Cup Trophy Tour, K’naan
has toured 86 countries on the road to South Africa. “It’s hard to
describe, I think I will need another year to really process it.”
Named Keinan at birth, meaning “traveller”, it augured well for his
future international stardom. After leaving war-torn Mogadishu at age
13, he and his family immigrated to Toronto, Canada.
K’naan first entered the spotlight in 1999 when he performed a spoken
word piece before the United Nations High Commission for Refugees,
criticising failed aid missions to Somalia.
He caught the eye of Senegalese superstar Youssou N’Dour, who invited
him to contribute to his 2001 album Building Bridges.
The young musician brought out his own album, My Life is a Movie, in
2004 and launched his first studio album, The Dusty Foot Philosopher,
with major label BMG in 2005.
After changing record labels to A&M/Octone, his 2009 follow-up
album Troubadour produced the smash hit “Wavin’ Flag”.
The song was picked up by Coca-Cola, one of the official sponsors of
the World Cup, for a global marketing campaign. A dozen local-language
versions of the single were released in 160 countries, reaching number
one in 17.
A Canadian collective called Young Artists for Haiti also recorded it
as a charity single.
K’naan is still stunned by the song’s success. “As a songwriter, to
have a song live a life like this, to watch it grow and evolve, is
“People have responded in incredible ways – not only to the local mixes
but also by doing their own. The number of cover versions on YouTube is
He describes his work as “urgent music with message”. “Wavin’ Flag”
originally had politically charged lyrics about ending violence and
poverty in Somalia.
The celebration mix was reworked to be more uplifting. However, K’naan
is certain it can be just as powerful an agent for social change.
“We wanted to create a mix that was synonymous with the spirit of the
World Cup – the celebration, unity and empowerment that comes with it.
I think we achieved that.”
“Wavin’ Flag” is played before World Cup matches and at halftime.
In April this year, K’naan was named Artist and Songwriter of the Year
at the Juno Awards in Canada, beating nominees like Michael Bublé and
Fan Fest prohibited items:
Weapons, Bottles, Cups, Jugs, Cans, Recording of sound or images is
only allowed for private use, Alcohol, Drugs, Racist or Xenophobic
material, Banners or Flags larger than 2m x 1.5m, Motorcycle Helmets,
Objects which could compromise public safety, Food, Drink, Gas Spray
Cans, Corrosives or anything that could cause a fire, Fireworks,
Megaphones, Hooters, Gas Powered Horns (Vuvuzelas ARE Allowed), Selling
of Goods or Tickets, Animals, Promotional or Commercial Material.
Arrive at least 2 hours early, Co-operate during security inspections
and body checks, Stay out of restricted areas, Keep all emergency
entrances and exits clear at all times.
Send your images from the Port Elizabeth Fan Fest to alan[at]mype.co.za.
Submit your images and article from your host city fan fest to www.MyZA.co.za