At The Moment

Miriam Makeba: The Click Song

Miriam Makeba: The Click Song by Leysa Flores /

Anyone who knows me well knows that I love world music. I have far too many Putumayo CDs. I think it stems from way back when I used to listen to traditional Māori songs on my walkman from a cassette tape my parents bought on our visit to New Zealand when I was three.

This design was inspired by my recent fascination with The Click Song by Miriam Makeba, a singer otherwise known as ‘Mama Africa’. The song’s real name is Qongqothwanebut earned it’s nickname by European colonials who couldn’t pronounce the many click consonants contained within it.

Click consonants to you and me are similar to the sound we make when we say “tsk! tsk!” or the sound children make with their tongues when imitating a galloping horse. They are part of many languages including that of the Xhosa people of South Africa (Miriam herself being a Xhosa).

The title of the song literally means, “knock-knock beetle” which is a popular nickname for various species of darkling beetles that make a distinctive knocking sound by tapping their abdomens on the ground. These beetles are believed by the Xhosa to bring good luck and rain, and so the song is traditionally sung at weddings to bring good fortune.

The lyrics are as follows:

Igqira lendlela nguqongqothwane
Sebeqabele gqithapha bathi nguqongqothwane 

Diviner of the roadways – the knock knock beetle
It just passed by here – the knock knock beetle

Original image of Miriam found here


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