“Zamina mina (Zangaléwa)” is a 1986 hit song, originally sung by a makossa group from Cameroon originally named Golden Sounds, popular in Africa for their use of dance and costumes. Due to the song’s popularity, the group renamed to Zangaléwa during its mainstream success. Most of the band members were in the Cameroonian Army themselves
||Pidgin English; some Douala and French
The languages present in the song’s lyrics (Douala, French, Jamaican Patois, and the pidgin English of some parts of West Africa) make clear that the song originates from the area of Cameroon but the circumstances surrounding the time of the song’s origin are less clear. Some sources indicate that the lyrics are, at the very least, a lament from the point of view of a single soldier, but other aspects of the song, including the way it is frequently performed (see cultural context section), has led to conflicting claims that the song is a tribute to African soldiers of World War II or a criticism of Africans who collaborated with European colonial authorities.
The song is still used today almost everywhere in Africa by soldiers, policemen, boy scouts, sportsmen, and their supporters, usually during training or for rallying. It is particularly popular in Cameroon, where it is used as a marching song or rallying cry.
The song was popularized in Colombia under the name “the Military” and “El sacalengua” (“The one who sticks out his tongue”, due to the similarity with the name of the song) by DJs fond of African music based in Barranquilla and Cartagena.
In the music video for the 1986 release and in other performances of the song, performers often dress in military uniforms, wearing pith helmets and stuffing their clothes to give the appearance of being well-off and associated with European colonial authorities. This appearance and the lyrics, according to some music historians, is a criticism of African military officers who were in league with whites and profited from the oppression of their own people during the era of European imperialist colonization.
Some elements of the song incorporate Cameroonian slang and Cameroonian military jargon from World War II
According to Jean Paul Zé Bella, the lead singer of Golden Sounds, the chorus came “from Cameroonian sharpshooters who had created a slang for better communication between them during the Second World War”; the band initially recreated the fast pace of the military communication in their first arrangements of the song.
Variants, covers, and sampling
The song became internationally popular when the international pop star Shakira released a variant (as a tribute to African music) titled “Waka Waka (This Time For Africa)” in anticipation of the 2010 World Cup in South Africa.
Before “Waka Waka (This Time For Africa)” was released in 2010, the song was sampled or covered by other artists, including: