It’s an anthem that sends tingles down your spine, compels you to stand up and sing, and often even brings a tear to the eye. Rousing and heart rendering, with its origins in the hopes and despair of the early gold and diamond miners, ‘Shosholoza’is not just a song to South Africans, it is the country’s unofficial national anthem and a hymn of unity and pride. Here is more about the song that raises the Rainbow Nation’s soul.
How it all began
Historically, South African miners used music to lift their spirits while working underground, often in trying and dangerous conditions. ‘Shosholoza’ originated among working miners who sang the song to the rhythm of their swinging axes as they dug. It was also sung by prisoners in a call-and-response style, and South Africa’s most famous apartheid-era inmate and former president Nelson Mandela once described how he sang ‘Shosholoza’ as he worked during his imprisonment on Robben Island.
Its English meaning
‘Shosholoza’ is sung in Fanagalo, a unique language used by South African miners that is a mix of Ndebele, Zulu and various other ethnic languages. Often, the combination of languages used depended on who was singing the song, so there is no direct English translation for the lyrics. Roughly decoded, the word ‘shosholoza’ means ‘go forward’, and this loose translation has much to do with the song having been adopted by so many people.
The voice of the nation
In the mining environment, the anthem is used as a term of encouragement, hope and solidarity for the workers, while modern day South Africa has adopted the song as a show of unity in national sporting events and to relay the message that the players are a part of a team.
‘Shosholoza’ first became widely known in South Africa after the removal of apartheid. This is when it was adopted as an unofficial symbol for national reconciliation and peace, moving out of the dark depths of the mining environment and prison cells of Robben Island and into the new Rainbow Nation’s hearts.
In 1995, the song made its first major international debut when South Africans of all backgrounds joined together in cheering on their team during the Rugby World Cup. It lifted the rafters once again at the 2010 FIFA World Cup and has been featured in the Clint Eastwood directed movie Invictus. The song has also been recorded by a number of artists, including the internationally acclaimed group Ladysmith Black Mambazo, singer PJ Powers, and Belgian tenor Helmut Lotti.
It’s doubtful that ‘Shosholoza’ will ever decrease in popularity with its South African audience as, much like the haka to New Zealand, it has established itself as a vital component of national pride, reminding us that change is possible and hope never dies.
‘Go forward, go forward from those mountains on a train from South Africa, go forward, go forward.’
Volcanic Iceland Epic Trip
meet our Local Insider
HOW LONG HAVE YOU BEEN A GUIDE?
WHAT DO YOU LOVE ABOUT YOUR JOB?
It's the personal contact, the personal experiences. I love meeting people from all over the world... I really like getting to know everyone and feeling like I'm traveling with a group of friends.
WHAT DESTINATION IS ON YOUR TRAVEL BUCKET-LIST?
I have so many places on my list, but I would really lobe to go to Africa. I consider myself an “adventure girl” and Africa feels like the ULTIMATE adventure!
Every CULTURE TRIP Small-group adventure is led by a Local Insider just like Hanna.
KEEN TO EXPLORE THE WORLD?
Connect with like-minded people on our premium trips curated by local insiders and with care for the world
Since you are here, we would like to share our vision for the future of travel - and the direction Culture Trip is moving in.
Culture Trip launched in 2011 with a simple yet passionate mission: to inspire people to go beyond their boundaries and experience what makes a place, its people and its culture special and meaningful — and this is still in our DNA today. We are proud that, for more than a decade, millions like you have trusted our award-winning recommendations by people who deeply understand what makes certain places and communities so special.
Increasingly we believe the world needs more meaningful, real-life connections between curious travellers keen to explore the world in a more responsible way. That is why we have intensively curated a collection of premium small-group trips as an invitation to meet and connect with new, like-minded people for once-in-a-lifetime experiences in three categories: Culture Trips, Rail Trips and Private Trips. Our Trips are suitable for both solo travelers, couples and friends who want to explore the world together.
Culture Trips are deeply immersive 5 to 16 days itineraries, that combine authentic local experiences, exciting activities and 4-5* accommodation to look forward to at the end of each day. Our Rail Trips are our most planet-friendly itineraries that invite you to take the scenic route, relax whilst getting under the skin of a destination. Our Private Trips are fully tailored itineraries, curated by our Travel Experts specifically for you, your friends or your family.
We know that many of you worry about the environmental impact of travel and are looking for ways of expanding horizons in ways that do minimal harm - and may even bring benefits. We are committed to go as far as possible in curating our trips with care for the planet. That is why all of our trips are flightless in destination, fully carbon offset - and we have ambitious plans to be net zero in the very near future.