Punctuated by shouts of “Africa,” Shakira‘s second consecutive performance at the closing ceremony of a FIFA World Cup sparked an ecstatic response from the vuvuzela-blowing crowd crammed into Soweto’s Soccer City.
The Colombian singer – who also made a star-turn at the first ever FIFA World Cup Kick-Off a month ago (June 10) – wore a day-glo colored Roberto Cavalli outfit as she launched into “Waka Waka (This Time For Africa).”
Joining the barefoot singer were members of Freshlyground, Shakira’s South African collaborators on the official 2010 FIFA World Cup Song.
“Waka Waka”, from “The Official 2010 Fifa World Cup Album” (Sony), has proved itself a bonafide music hit, charting in over 15 countries and notching up 87 million views on YouTube. Freshlyground’s singer Zolani Mahola and guitarist Julio Sigauque in particular ensured “Waka Waka’s” was shot through with a southern African flavor during Shakira’s charged performance, ahead of the final between the Netherlands and Spain. Spain triumphed 1-0 in extra time.
Multi-Grammy winners Ladysmith Black Mambazo also ensured the host country stamped its unique sonic flavor over the closing ceremony. Their signature a cappella music proved a terrific accompaniment to the procession of mechanized elephants that appeared to “drink” from a wetland created visually on the pitch.
Punctuating the dancing and visual magic, including the formation by dancers of a giant vuvuzela as well as the words “For Africa,” were performances by several South African artists including Stoan Seate of Bongo Maffin.
There was a nod to South Africa’s music past with a performance by veteran singer Abigail Kubeka, a contemporary of the late Miriam Makeba. Kubeka’s Afro jazz-inspired performance also featured Theo Kgosinkwe of contemporary Afro-pop group Mafikizolo.
The multi-artist number “Everywhere You Go” was less successful, though. The rendition by South Africans Jozi, Slikour, Zuluboy, Nigeria’s 2Face and Ghana’s Samini at Soccer City lacked the power of the rest of the closing event. The song was written for the contest’s South African-sponsors MTN and featured Kelly Rowland on the digitally-released recording.
There was no doubting the spectacle of more than 700 performers whose dancing and visual set pieces recapped the highlights of the month-long tournament. And when former President Nelson Mandela made up for missing the opening event following the death of his great-granddaughter with a brief run around the pitch in a motorized vehicle, the crowd’s adoring response sealed what many rated as one of the best closing ceremonies in recent memory.
The closing ceremony was broadcast to 215 countries with an estimated global television audience in excess of 500 million viewers.