Washington - The
world-famous song "Pata Pata", a South African dance hit from
1967, is being re-released with new lyrics to spread information
about coronavirus to vulnerable communities.
Meaning "touch touch" in the Xhosa language, "Pata Pata" was
written by Grammy-winning singer Miriam Makeba who named it
after a dance move popular 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'".
It will be played on more than 15 radio stations across
African countries on Thursday, said the UN Children's Agency
(UNICEF), which organised the release.
"It sounds so simple and yet it's still really difficult to
get information out to people in the most remote areas or to
people who aren't online," said UNICEF spokesman James Elder.
"Radio does the trick every time," he told the Thomson
The song is also meant to spread joy in hard times, he said.
It has been called "the world's most defiantly joyful song"
because it represented revelry under apartheid South Africa.
Nicknamed "Mama Africa", Makeba helped popularize music from
the continent worldwide.
She was a friend and mentor to Kidjo, a UNICEF goodwill
ambassador and one of the biggest African celebrities of the
African music suffered a blow earlier last 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
This new version of ‘Pata Pata’ will be free to use. The public is encouraged to submit videos of themselves dancing to ‘Pata-Pata’ by tagging @1unicefafrica on TikTok or @unicefafrica on Instagram with #nopatapata and #healthyathome. The best dance clips will be included in a music video to be released in mid-May.