Zamina mina (Zangalewa)

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Song by Golden Sounds
Released 1986 (1986)
Genre Makossa
Language Fang

"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. Zangaléwa pays tribute to African skirmishers (a.k.a. tirailleurs) during World War II. Most of the band members were in the Cameroonian Army themselves,[1] and utilised the song in fund-raising efforts for Comic Relief.


The languages present in the song's lyrics (Douala, French, patois, and the pidgin English of some parts of West Africa)[2] make clear that the song originates from the area of Cameroon and Nigeria, 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,[2] 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.[2]

Though the song was released in 1986 and based on the version from the military music of Cameroon, these versions are claimed by some sources to have origins from before that time.[citation needed] During the Nigerian Civil War of 1967-1970, Nigerian combat personnel are reported to have sung this song or a variant thereof; some time during the 1970s the Mercuries (a Nigerian Army band) broadcast a cover of the song on live television.[original research?]

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.[1] It is particularly popular in Cameroon, where it is used as a marching song or rallying cry.[citation needed]

The song was popularized in Colombia under the name "the Military"[citation needed] by West African DJs based in Cartagena.[citation needed]

Cultural context[edit]

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 in certain places with pillows to give the appearance of being well-off and associated with European colonial authorities. This appearance and the lyrics, according to some music historians,[who?] 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.[citation needed]

Some elements of the song incorporate Cameroonian slang and Cameroonian military jargon from World War II.[citation needed]

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";[citation needed] the band initially recreated the fast pace of the military communication in their first arrangements of the song.

Variants, covers, and sampling[edit]

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.[3][4]

Before "Waka Waka (This Time For Africa)" was released in 2010, the song was sampled or covered by other artists, including:


External links[edit]