Angelique Kidjo Re-Purposes Miriam Makeba’s Hit Song “Pata Pata”

The world-famous song Pata Pata, a South African dance hit from the 1960s, has been re-released by Angelique Kidjo with new lyrics to spread a message about Coronavirus to unsafe communities. Meaning “touch touch” in the Xhosa language, Pata Pata was written by Grammy-winning singer Miriam Makeba who titled it after a dance move available in Johannesburg at the time.

The new version sung by Beninese artist Angelique Kidjo includes lyrics such as, “We need to keep our hands clean so ‘no-Pata Pata’… Don’t touch your face, keep distance please and ‘no-Pata Pata’. The song is scheduled to be played on more than 15 radio stations across African countries.

The song is also meant to spread joy in hard times. It has been called “the world’s most defiantly joyful song” because it represented revelry under apartheid South Africa.

Nicknamed “Mama Africa”, Makeba helped popularise music from the continent worldwide. She was a friend and mentor to Kidjo, a Unicef goodwill ambassador and one of the most prominent African celebrities of the last decade.

African music suffered a blow earlier previous month when Cameroonian jazz icon Manu Dibango died of Coronavirus. “Manu inspired me. Miriam inspired me. And Pata Pata gave me hope,” Kidjo said in a statement.

“Pata Pata has always been there for people at a time of struggle. I hope from our confined spaces we can dance once more.”