Sunday, 2 October 2011

Zahara's "Loliwe"

South African Xhoza singer Zahara performs her title song "Loliwe", from her recent album in the video below. The song is causing a lot of buzz in South Africa. In part because of its beautiful melody and Zahara's rich vocal quality. However, it is not only the aesthetics of the song that is causing the talk -- it is the confusing lyrics. The narrator in the song tells her audience to wipe the tears from their faces because the train is coming, the train is coming, "loliwe", but then the lyrics make a strange turn in the bridge, saying that heaven is only filled with Christians, so if you want to go to heaven you should pray.



Since the album is not a gospel album, it would seem that the lyrics are somewhat insensitive, even, hyper liberals can argue, politically incorrect as it clearly suggests that there is no salvation for anybody of a different faith. The lyrics are further confusing as the connection with the coming train and heaven is never made clear. Is the train a reference to the Second Advent in which the living in Christ and those that died in Christ are spirited away into heaven -- transited to heaven in a metaphorical train, like Elijah in a flaming chariot (II Kings 2:11)? The coming train is obviously meant to be good news, for it is the reason why they should wipe away their tears and stop crying. But why are they crying in the first place? Are they the one's that should pray? Are they crying because they are not going to heaven? If so, why should the announcement of the coming train be of comfort to them?

Any Xhoza readers or other South Africans of this blog that can help to decipher the song?


Update:

I just saw in the comments under another "Loliwe" related YouTube video one YouTube viewer translate the section in question as: "in heaven only the holy ones stay there so if you also want to stay [then you should] pray". Since it is a native speaker's translation, I assume it is much closer than my assumption that it was only Christians staying in heaven. But myself and others are still confused about the connections between the crying people, the coming train, and heaven.

6 comments:

Norma said...

I think the lyrics of the song, "Loliwe" are metaphorical. This is what I think they mean: That the train has come to take away the pain. But I agree its not coming out clearly. It sounds like a tribute song to someone grieving over the loss of a loved one but its all fickle. May be that was the point: making the song hard to figure out...

Skryfblok said...

Norma, thank you for your comment. I like your interpretation of someone grieving over the loss of a loved one.

BoerinBallingskap said...

Ek hou nogal baie van die lied.

Skryfblok said...

Ek het gedog dit is meer bekend onder alle Suid-Afrikaners maar dit blyk dat slegs my swartvriende bekend is daarmee en dat my witvriende nie in die loep is nie. Vir ons hier in die buiteland vloei die kulturele produkte uit SA so bietjie deurmekaar. Vir die gene in SA is die kulturele lyne duideliker getrek.

Dit is 'n mooi lied, nê!

Sterretjie said...

I never knew that it's only Christians that pray. Is it not relevant in all believes that there come a time that you speak to your GOD?

Skryfblok said...

It depends on the religion, I guess. There are religions where the devotee does not directly pray to God, but appeals to an intercessor to approach God on their behalf. In some of the African and Oriental religious systems one would pray (or prepare sacrifices for) ones ancestors, who in turn affect "higher authorities" on your behalf.