The South African DJ behind the global pop hit “Jerusalema” won Best African Act at this year’s MTV European Music Awards, drawing praise from the country’s ruling party and jubilant fans.

The gospel-influenced song, recorded by producer Master KG with Zulu lyrics by Nomcebo, lifted global spirits darkened by the pandemic at the start of the year. It also inspired the “Jerusalema dance challenge”, which saw people across the world sharing clips of the same choreography in various settings.

Master KG bagged the coveted award on Sunday night, beating Nigerian superstars Burna Boy and Rema among others. “I would love to thank each and every person out there, all over the world, for making this possible,” Master KG said in a virtually recorded acceptance speech tweeted after receiving the award.

The ruling African National Congress (ANC) party also congratulated Master KG, describing the DJ as a “musical maestro” and source of inspiration.  “This further confirms our longstanding belief that African artists can compete at the global stage and break the barriers created by colonialism,” the ANC said in a statement on Monday.

“I know I am having the biggest song in the world but that doesn’t change me,” Master KG told AFP on the sidelines of a concert in Malawi last month. “It doesn’t change how I look at things, how I look at people, because music is music.” 

“Jerusalema” has clocked more than 200 million hits on YouTube since its release in late 2019. Here you go, in case you haven’t listened to the song.