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Jersulama: The Feel-Good Song That Uplifted The World

Posted by Caribbean World Magazine on 8 April 2021 | 0 Comments

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8 April 2021

Airline staff in Europe, women’s groups in Africa, Irish police departments, Thai priests and Caribbean school-kids are just some of the millions of Jerusalema dance videos on You Tube that brings us joy and hope. 

In the midst of the anxiety and despair of the global pandemic, a ray of bright positivity has offered the world a glimmer of hope and comfort.  Most  of us - wherever we live on Earth - have probably seen, or at least heard of,the Jerusalema challenge by now.

Unlike the many social media fads that come and go, this isn’t solely the trend of teens on TikTok, either: the Jerusalema challenge has become about as mainstream as you can possibly get, as entire police forces, teams of bank employees and government clerks have gotten involved from different countries around the world. 

The Jerusalema challenge is simple but uplifting - a challenge to perform a dance to a catchy gospel-influenced house song by South African producer Master KG and performed by singer-songwriter Nomcebo. Angolan dance troupe Fenómenos do Semba created the viral #JerusalemaDanceChallenge video that showed off their dance moves to the South African hit, using home shot footage of a them eating lunch in a backyard in Luanda, before breaking into dance with plates in their hands. 

In the age of coronavirus, the #JerusalemaDanceChallenge video has generated a counter-contagion and within days everyone from petrol attendants in Barbados tochurch wardens in Englandwere posting their own versions of the Jerusalema dance videos. For the last 13 months, millions of feel-good clips have helped to sweepthe world along in a message of spiritual hope and joy amplified through an electronic beat. 

The track was originally created in November 2019, with the South African gospel vocalist Nomcebo Zimode invited to interpret it lyrically. During jamming sessions, the intoxicating isiZulu phrase “Jerusalema, ikhaya lami” (Jerusalem is my home) emerged as the inspiring vocal before the Angolans addedthief irresistible choreography. The rest is history.

What works is that the music, lyrics and dance routine is at a seductive pace with plenty of repetition, which offers everyone of any age the opportunity to join in and make it their own. It’s easy enough to learn, yetvaried enough to tease, and video clips have flown around the world on TikTokInstagram and Facebook like confetti - each one compulsive viewing. Every upload on social media is tagged withthe names of friends, family or co-workers to challenge them to do the dance next. Proving that in music - the ultimate universal language - there are no borders. 

So far, Jerusalema  has reached the number one spot in the charts in multiple countries and has ironically “gone viral” in a message of spirit and hope during the most challenging viral threat the world has ever known. Famous Jerusalema efforts have come from all over the world, starting on the continent of Africa and spreading to Vietnam, Switzerland, Ireland, Austria, Morocco - even Israel's Jerusalem itself. 

Fancy recording your own? It is simple to do, despite Covid-19 regulations. Simply learn the steps as a group and record yourselves performing the dance. There is even a tutorial for the steps on YouTube, which you can find here. Then upload your Jerusalema dance video to social media, using the tag #JerusalemaChallenge. Don’t forget to tag colleagues, friends or family; dare them to take up the challenge next! 

At Caribbean World, one of our favourite Jerusalema video clips is the Jerusalema Challenge by all-girl dance group Sabor&Danca. Watch it What’s your favourite?