Last week, South Africa’s president Cyril Ramaphosa endorsed the dance craze, calling on people to participate in the challenge to celebrate the country’s Heritage Day (Thursday, 24 September).
The 2019 hit “Jerusalema” by Master KG and Nomcebo Zikode has received international attention after clips of South Africans doing the #JerusalemaDanceChallenge went viral on social media.
In the upbeat Zulu-language track, the singer implores God to take them to the heavenly city of Jerusalem. The song has been streamed more than 60 million times on Spotify and has been named the world’s most popular track on Shazam, an application used to identify unknown songs.
The global challenge began after a group of friends in Angola shot a video of themselves dancing to the song in February, when the pandemic was beginning to look more serious and lockdowns were imminent.
Since then, the gospel-influenced house song and accompanying dance challenge has offered uplifting moments during the pandemic, not only in South Africa but worldwide too.
The dance has become a viral sensation. It has been performed at hospitals in France and Sweden, restaurants in Romania and public places in the UK and Canada.
A YouTube video of Catholic priests in Montreal, Canada performing the dance has been applauded by people around the world.
Speaking to the South African newspaper Sowetan, Master KG said: “It is a dance that was done by people from Angola, then Portugal followed and it just went viral from that point.”
On Thursday (24 September), the country’s Health Minister Dr Zweli Mkhize released his own three-minute video showing himself and his team participating in the challenge.
Healthcare workers in South Africa, Italy, the US, Australia, Zimbabwe, Puerto Rico, and the Democratic Republic of the Congo have shared uplifting videos of themselves doing the #JerusalemaDanceChallenge.
Master KG told Sowetan: “It’s so beautiful to see how “Jerusalema” has taken over the world, to see how far it has gone. The song did amazing at home. It ruled the streets and people created memories of that song.”
South Africa has weathered its first peak of Covid-19, having registered more than 665,000 cases, including 16,206 deaths, nearly half of the total of all Africa's 54 countries.
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