Makeba’s Pata Pata hit re-launched to fight Covid-19

Arts Correspondent
The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) has announced that anti-apartheid music legend Miriam Makeba’s
classic Pata Pata song has been re-released with new lyrics aimed at helping beat the spread of the corona virus.
The words of the 1967 song, which became synonymous with South Africa’s liberation struggle, have been re-
written to encourage safe distancing and hand washing.
UNICEF said: “Once called the world’s most defiantly joyful song, it has been re-recorded, to spread information
and hope at this time of the corona virus pandemic.”
Benin-born UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador Angélique Kidjo, who was mentored by Makeba, sings the re-
recorded version, the UN children’s fund said in a statement.
The words Pata Pata mean “touch touch” in isiXhosa. The reworked version has no alterations to chords or
syllables, but several changes to the lyrics. Some of the lines in the version go: “In this time of coronavirus it’s not
touch time. Everybody can help fight Covid-19. Stay at home and wait it out. This is no-pata-pata. We need to keep
our hands clean. Don’t touch your face, keep distance please.”
Fondly known as Mama Africa, Makeba won a Grammy award for Best Folk Recording with American musician
Harry Belafonte in 1965. Her music was however outlawed in her homeland, after she appeared in an anti-
apartheid film. She died aged 76 in November 2008 after a performance in Italy.
Kidjo said the song reminded her of a friend, Afro-Jazz veteran Manu Dibango who died earlier this month after
contracting corona virus.
“Manu and Miriam inspired me; and Pata Pata gave me hope. Pata Pata has always been there for people at a
time of the struggle. I hope it helps once more,” Kidjo said.
Makeba was a United Nations goodwill ambassador who worked on hunger, HIV/Aids, domestic violence, and
also as a civil rights activist.

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