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Watch: ‘Waka Waka’ fever takes over last night of Eisteddfod

08 Aug 2022 4 minute read
The crowd go wild for ‘Waka Waka’ at the National Eisteddfod (Credit: @Scarletmarc)

These were the manic and joyful scenes on the final night of the National Eisteddfod in Tregaron – as ‘Waka Waka’ fever firmly took hold on the Maes.

For Welsh musician Yws Gwynedd and his band, who added ‘Waka Waka’ to their set, it’s become a firm crowd favourite, as you can tell from this brilliant footage from the Eisteddfod.

Twitter user @Scarlettmarc shot this footage and said there was areal party vibe about the gig.

“The atmosphere was already electric with a lovely end of Eisteddfod party vibe. There were a few balls being knocked around by the crowd and everyone was rocking. When the song was played the place just erupted and the crowd went mad.”

Waka Waka fever started to appear on the evening Wales qualified for the World Cup for the first time in 64 years.

Alongside ‘Yma O Hyd’ it has become a song inextricably linked to the Wales football team.

Shakira’s ‘Waka Waka’ (This Time For Africa) was the official song of the 2010 World Cup, but when the Wales squad arrived at Gareth Bale’s Elevens Bar on the evening they had secured qualification for the World Cup, the players were filmed singing the song’s distinctive chorus – but replacing the line ‘It’s Time For Africa’ with ‘We’re Going To Qatar’.

Ever since that evening the song has spread like wildfire, an omnipresent joy at Wales games – home and away.

It was there at the Nations League matches at Cardiff City Stadium – and reverberated inside and outside the stadium at the away game against the Netherlands in Rotterdam.

There was even a brilliant rendition of the Shakira hit in a Dutch passport queue on the way to the match.

First emanating in the Wales dressing room with Ethan Ampadu identified as the player who started the chant, it’s now become a firm fan favourite.

Not only that but it has transcended cultural barriers and can now be heard at festivals around Wales, with kids picking it up and singing it with the sort of joyful abandon it inspires.

Nowhere was this more evident than Yws Gwynedd’s recent appearance at the Tafwyl Festival at Cardiff Castle.

Talking about adopting ‘Waka Waka’, the musician said: “We used to do a bit of the Zombie Nation riff back in 2016, with my connections to footy, it just seemed like we should give Waka Waka a go. The crowd were singing it between songs before we did it in Tafwyl, but we’d planned a bit of a fiddle with it before going in to our last song, ‘Sebona Fi’.

“The actual song’s in D but we pitched it to A so it would work with ‘Sebona Fi’. It’s just a four chorder so easy enough to learn. I tried my best to get the crowd to sing “Da ni’n mynd i Qatar” but I think “We’re going to Qatar” has stuck.”

Ryan March, editor of Alternative Wales fanzine and a Wales Away regular filmed the crowd singing along to the song at Tafwyl.

“It snuck up on me a bit, amongst all the fall out from the playoff final I missed the original video until the morning of the Netherlands home game,” he said. “I assume it started from within the camp and it’s spread like wildfire amongst the fan base. It’s become the anthem for qualifying, similar to how Don’t Take Me Home was the anthem for Euro 2016.

“It’s being sung in passport control queues, gigs, nightclubs and all sorts of other places across the country. It’s captured the imagination of everyone as we head into this historic tournament.

“It’s funny though, I have no idea why the song was chosen in the first place. It has no relevance to anything other than it being used for a World Cup 12 years ago but it’s stupidly catchy and we’ll be hearing a lot more of it before November.”

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