Shosholoza is a song which I heard for the first time in 1995. It somehow become one of the anthems of the Rugby World cup we were fortunate to host. Yes, that world cup that brought a nation together.
I LOVE the song. I try to incite its singing within the crowd every time I’m at a live rugby match and I get the chills every time I hear it. Weirdly though, until today, I didn’t know what it meant. If it wasn’t for this blog I wouldn’t have bothered to find out but I thought I had better do my due diligence before I start writing about it.
I chose to write about it since it drove me to tears again now when I watched a clip of the South African Paraolymipics team sing an impromptu version while waiting their turn at the opening ceremony.
So, I realised it’s time hail something as simple as a song. A song, which to me, speaks of unity and strength and in it’s simplicity is just beautiful. Finding out what it means put this song in a new light though. It’s still a very positive one but it’s bitter sweet. It’s about a train running away from South Africa over the mountains. A tune I can only suspect was written to wish well the oppressed people who were lucky enough to escape our past atrocities. The song wished that the train “run fast” which is probably why it became a sport anthem in that the train can be an analogy for athletes.
To me though there is one extra gem in the analogy when I think back to 1995 (a year past the birth of our democracy) and I think of everyone singing that song together: The train running fast over the mountain was running away from the old South Africa. That train symbolises a journey which can only be measures in mountains because the struggle was real and hard.
In many ways we’re still on that mountain but I firmly believe the train has now turned back towards its country and South Africans want to work together to get it off that mountain. There are still lots of struggles but there is a nation of people who want to make this country work and so the tracks are headed back home and may we all receive the warm welcome we deserve. Shozoloza.