(trad. arr. Matshikiza)
Tshotsholosa or Shosholoza is a Ndebele folk song that originated in Zimbabwe but was popularized in South Africa. The song is a traditional South African folk song that was sung by Ndebele all-male migrant workers that were working in the South African mines in a call and response style. The song is so popular in South African culture that it is often referred to as South Africa's second national anthem.
Former South African President Nelson Mandela describes how he sang Shosholoza as he worked during his imprisonment on Robben Island. He describes it as "a song that compares the apartheid struggle to the motion of an oncoming train" and goes on to explain that "the singing made the work lighter".
Although the original author of the song is unknown, Shosholoza is a traditional miner's song, originally sung by groups of men from the Ndebele ethnic group that travelled by steam train from their homes in Zimbabwe to work in South Africa's diamond and gold mines. The Ndebele live predominantly in Zimbabwe (formerly, Rhodesia) near its border with South Africa, and they can also be found in the northern border of South Africa.
"Tshotsholosa" was introduced in 1961 by Nathan Mdledle and Company in the London Cast recording of "King Kong".
Nathan Mdledle was a member of the Manhattan Brothers and played the title-role.
The London Production of King Kong opened on the 23rd February 1961 at the Princess Theatre, London. Most of the songs from King Kong were written by Todd Matshikiza and Pat Williams, but "Tshotsholosa" was not written by them, Matshikiza only arranged this traditional road song.
"Tshotsholosa" was not part of the ORIGINAL 1959 South-African production of "King Kong".
The London Production of King Kong was released in 1961 on Decca album LK 4392.
The song was also released on the next Decca EP:
The song was usually sung to express the hardship of working in the mines. It expresses heartache over the hard work performed in the mines. The word Shosholoza or "chocholoza!" means go forward or make way for the next man, in Ndebele. It is used as a term of encouragement and hope for the workers as a sign of solidarity. The sound "sho sho" uses onomatopoeia and reminiscent of the sound made by the steam train (stimela). Stimela is the Zulu word for steam train. "Kweso ntaba!" means (At those far away mountains), "Stimela Siphume eRhodesia" (the train come from Rhodesia), "Wen´ uya baleka" (Because you're running away/hurrying).
In contemporary times, its meaning is to show support for any struggle.
Tshotsholosa, ezontaba stimela siphuma erhodesia
Wen uya baleka kweso ntaba stimela siphuna erhodesia
In English, ``Steam away, steam away over the hills, you train from Rhodesia.
You are fast-moving through hills, steam away, you train from Rhodesia.''
(c) Pete Seeger 1963 (as "Tshotsholosa")
Pete Seeger recorded this song June 8, 1963 on the album "We Shall Overcome".
Seeger must have known the version from King Kong, because on his album the credits read: Matshikiza / Williams. (we now know that Matshikiza only arranged the traditional "Tshotsholosa")
(c) The Ian Campbell Folk Group 1964 (as "Cho Cho Losa")
When the South African revue,"King Kong" appeared at the Edinborough Festival in 1963, they were heard by Ian Campbell, and his group.
The Ian Campbell Folk Group recorded the song in 1964 on an LP called "Across the Hills", on the Transatlantic label.
(c) Johannesburg African Music Society 1965 (as "Tshostholoza")
Label: Gallotone GALP 1350
It was in the 1965 South-African movie Dingaka, (as "Shosholoza")
The music for this movie was written by Bertha Egnos and Eddie Domingo.
But "Shosholoza" has the credits: (Trad. Arr. Bertha Egnos-Basil Gray)
The soundtrack for that movie was released in 1965 on the next album:
Label Gallotone GALP 1385
In 1974 it was included in the South-African musical "Ipi Tombi" (as "Tshotsholosa")
The music for this musical was written by Bertha Egnos and her daughter Gail Lakier
(c) Peter Gabriel 1980 (B-side of "Biko") (as "Shosholoza")
Gabriel must have known the version from the 1965 Dingaka movie (see above), because on his album the credits read: trad arr Egnos / Gray & Gabriel
Eric Bogle's "Singing the Spirit Home" (1986) incorporated "Tshotsholosa" at the end of the song.
The song's been published in Sing Out! Magazine vol. 34#1 (winter, 1989).
How apartheid died on a rugby field
The song gained further popularity after South Africa won the 1995 Rugby World Cup, and is a favourite at sport events in South Africa. It was sung by the then Talk Radio 702 Breakfast Show co-host, Dan Moyane. The song was recorded, mastered and released in 5 days, having been mastered in the UK in order to get it ready in time for the first game in the 1995 RWC. It was conceptualised and produced by Famous Faces Management's CFF Stuart Lee. The record went gold in sales terms.
Listen to a sample of Dan Moyane's version here:
(c) Overtone with Yollandi Nortjie 2009 (as "Shosholoza")
This version was included on the soundtrack of the movie "Invictus", a film based on Nelson Mandela's life during the 1995 Rugby World Cup in South Africa.
Directed by Clint Eastwood, the film stars Morgan Freeman as South African President Mandela, and Matt Damon as Francois Pienaar, the South African team captain.
Shosholosa is now THE rugby song in South Africa and Zimbabwe.
It was also used as a TV theme tune for coverage of matches on TV there, and is sung as an anthem by the crowds. Ladysmith Black Mambazo recorded the TV version,
Ladysmith Black Mombaza
(c) Ternielle Nelson, Jason Harman, UJU, Louise Carver 2010 (as "Shosholoza")
Recorded for the official 2010 FIFA World Cup album.
And here's another version also recorded for the 2010 FIFA World Cup in South-Africa.