Inkululeko (or something very similar to that) is a Zulu word which means ‘Freedom’. Not freedom from slavery or oppression, but just being FREE… Free to do your thing and be yourself…

The reason I know that is that when we were filming our ‘Zulu Stick Fighting’ episode of Last Man Standing, we had a great little friend Lungisani who was our translator for the trip. He was only about 15 years of age, but seemed like a very intelligent young guy and Corey and I had a lot of fun joking around with him. (Corey and I were staying together on this particular location). I would call him ‘Lungs’ instead of Lungisani and he’d correct me everytime and say ‘I’m not lungs!’, but somehow that encouraged me to mispronounce his name even more.

Anyway, as the trip continued and we learned how to beat each other with sticks, I also discovered that these Zulu warrior tribesmen had the best singing voices I had ever heard, and I was determined to find a way to capture that and remember it. So on the last day of the trip I pleaded with the BBC sound engineer to come up to our mud hut at the top of the hill, in the pouring rain, and bring with him his video camera and microphone, to record these guys singing. And while we waited for him to arrive I told the zulus (through our little translator dude) that I’d come up with a little tune on my guitar and that I wanted them to sing something with me. But the problem was that we didnt know what we were going to sing…and they also seemed to suddenly go shy on me!  So I just asked them – how do you say ‘Freedom’?  And they said a Zulu word which somehow didn’t sound very good to me, so I said ‘Is that Freedom like being freed from JAIL, or just freedom to be yourself’?  They said, ‘freedom like being freed from jail’.  So I asked if there was a word or an expression which meant the other type of freedom – freedom to just be yourself with no fear of being chopped down or ridiculed or changed.  And they said something like:

Inkululeko…i kwenza uba uwena.   (freedom is being yourself)

Now I havent got a clue if this means precisely what i think it means, but somehow I trust ‘Lungs’ and his young intelligence, and I think we expressed what I’d observed in these proud Zulus who I somehow sensed were under great pressure to become Westernised in order to survive – but who were very proud of who they were and where they came from.   So i just kept playing my guitar part & gave them a melody to work with & some ideas how to match it to my guitar….and then we all just sat around and started singing.   And somehow on that rainy night we managed to capture a few seconds where everyone was singing the same thing…and a year later, back in England, I eventually turned that into a complete song – with the help of my good friend and music producer Neel D’Wala. Now 3years later I’ve finally had time to mix and master the track – and here it is. Loud and Proud. 🙂    (to download the MP3 file, just click the black arrow!)

So that’s Inkululeko…the idea that when you give people space and acceptance to be themselves, then you really see what they are about. Of course part of who we are is traditions, culture and things passed down to us…but that can also be great stuff. Somehow in that Zulu tribe where they no longer had a need to be warriors and defend their land; they no longer had the life their ancestors once had…but they still gave me the sense they were free men. Free to be gentle but tough, to be confident enough to dance and sing in front of each other, to work hard but also to laugh and play in their own way. So if they could do it, then with all our advantages of the Western world we should certainly be able to get the balance right…

Freedom…is being the best version of yourself!


Posted in Rajko's Blog | 18 Comments

18 Responses to Inkululeko

  1. whatever says:

    Nice …..:)))

  2. zeus85 says:

    I have just listened to this track and was extremely impressed. Well done Rajko and thanks for sharing!

  3. Annakin011 says:

    Great song !!! 🙂 Thanks R.

  4. Hellz Faerie says:

    Thats cool…chilled and beautiful, could actually imagine it being on an Disney film or something.

    ‘Freedom…is being the best version of yourself!’. I’ll second that.

  5. rita knipe says:

    That is very moving and I can really feel the song, maybe partly because I am from South Africa. Thankyou for making it available to everyone.

  6. zanderxl says:

    Smooth, melodic, relaxing. Love how you are telling a story of your journey. Also really like how, despite seeing and doing all these amazing things, you say that there is still more you want to see.
    Great message. Thanks for sharing this.

  7. Jennifer-Leigh says:

    Love the song Rajko! Thanks for getting my password reset 🙂

  8. Kurt says:

    Very Good listening…

  9. BobbySixkiller says:

    freedom brother 🙂 !

  10. darav says:

    zdravo ,greetings from SA . The zulu word for freedom is ‘inkululeko’ . it’s youth day over here – the start of a long road to freedom for our country . Great song ,how about one with serbian in it 😉

    • Fantastic! It’s good to finally know what the correct word is. I’ll have to change the title of the song to be accurate to the word now…and yes, perhaps a Serbian song might have to be next on the list 🙂

  11. Margaret says:

    Nice beat and rhythmn, what a tail to tell. 🙂

  12. Callisto says:

    lovely song you got here that reminds me so much of home. I’m in England finishing up a masters degree and went to highschool in Kwazulu Natal amongst the Zulu. Funny enough is that Lungisani means “to fix” and he just happened to be your translator, hehehe =).

  13. Allison says:

    Wow! Rajko as always beautiful music. Very uplifting and up beat. Great song to run to I would say. Thanks for making it available to download. 🙂 So glad you are back to blogging.

  14. ludovic says:

    Beautiful, brother – really wonderful! I think Paul Simon would be happy with it 🙂
    I can totally relate to the lyrics too, although i haven’t been to Mexico! I love the explanation of the meaning and significance of the song – would be awesome if you could get the video footage of the guys singing too and make a music video out of it with some stunning African scenery…
    Well done!

  15. blair phillips says:

    Brilliant Rajko – and sharing it for a free download. Top class. Keep up the great work.

  16. Vanquish11 says:

    What a great song, very uplifting!

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