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.
He will be on stage from 3pm, before the screening of the quarterfinal match between Brazil and the Netherlands at 4pm.
“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 feeling.”
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 unbelievable.
“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 wild.”
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 Diana Krall.
• K’naan’s performance will be preceded at 2pm by a parade of giant puppets, storytellers and musicians who will perform an extract from the show The Giant Match.
CAPTION: K’naan will perform his World Cup song, the smash hit “Wavin’ Flag”, at the Fifa Fan Fest™ in Port Elizabeth on Friday.
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