Song Spotlight: Qongqothwane (The Click Song)

Photo of a black beetle with a hard shell and four visible skinny legs, sitting on a light surface with greenery in the background. Song spotlight label reads "African folk-pop"
  • Mood: Lively, Lighthearted 
  • Themes: South African folk, Song about bugs and insects
  • Tempo: Upbeat 
  • Genre/Style: Folk, South African folk-pop 

“Qongqothwane” is a South African folk song, specifically a song of the Xhosa people. This song is often known as “The Click Song” in the western world as its Xhosa title with click consonants is difficult for foreigners to pronounce. “Qongqothwane” became a well-known song worldwide after Miriam Makeba, a popular South African singer, performed her own interpretation of the song in the 1940s.     

The title of the song literally means “knock-knock beetle,” a type of beetle that creates a knocking sound when tapping their abdomens on the ground. This joyous and energetic song is believed by the Xhosa to bring good luck and is regularly sung at weddings.  

Here are some of the lyrics in the Xhosa language:

Igqirha lendlela nguqo ngqothwane

Seleqabele gqi thapha nguqo ngqothwane

Here is the translation of the song lyrics:

A diviner of the roadways is the knock-knock beetle,

Already it climbs up and passes by here, it’s the knock-knock beetle.

This is a great song to use in a 1:1 setting or group and would go well with a collection of songs that explore the theme of insects and bugs or folk songs from different regions of the world.

Try This:

Theme: This song would fit well into a folk music or insects and bugs theme. 

Listen and watch a recording of Miriam Makeba singing and explaining this song.

Add movement and invite participants to explore different ways to move to this lively song.

Add instruments such as drums, shakers, tambourines, and other rhythmic instruments. 

Show a photo of the knock knock beetle to participants while listening to this song. 

Invite participants to think of other songs with different bugs and insects in the titles.

For more song spotlights, visit our Song Spotlights page.

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