The World Cup may be a few weeks away but its official song is already at the center of a national controversy involving international Latin superstar Shakira.

The song “Waka Waka” (meaning “This Time for Africa”), a collaboration between Shakira and the South African band Freshlyground, hit radio stations a few days ago. The track, which borrows from a Cameroonian song called “Zangalewa,” was first recorded in 1986 and became an instant success all over Africa as well as Latin America.

Immediately after its re-release, however, many South Africans expressed disappointment that a local artist was not chosen to record the song. As the tournament’s kickoff concert date of June 11 is quickly approaching, critics have also been complaining that too many foreign acts like the Black Eyed Peas, Alicia Keys and John Legend are taking the limelight away from local musicians.

However, not everyone is upset about Shakira’s involvement. “We are thrilled to have collaborated with Shakira on “Waka Waka,” especially as we feel that the song captures the spirit and energy of the African FIFA World Cup,” said Zolani Mahola of Freshlyground. “We are certain that the song will inspire people around the world to celebrate the gathering of nations at the place where it all started. Here in Africa!”

This isn’t the first time that a World Cup tournament musical selection has given headaches to World Cup organizers. However, with all proceeds from “Waka Waka” (as well as “Listen Up: The Official 2010 FIFA World Cup Album”) going to the 20 Centres for 2010 campaign, a nonprofit organization that offers education and healthcare services as well as football training, let’s hope that critics can put the drama aside and let the games begin!

Shakira is scheduled to perform “Waka Waka” with Freshlyground on July 11.

The 2010 FIFA World Cup will take place between June 11 and July 11 in South Africa.

Written by Valerie Varasse

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