Trevor Wiggins Ghana Music Collection

Bewaa (recreational music), Bagrbine (ritual music for initiation) and Kari (women's songs)

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  • Subjects

    Initiation songs

  • Recording date


  • Is part of (Collection)

    Trevor Wiggins Ghanaian Music Collection

  • Recording locations

    Ghana, Central Region, Cape Coast Metropolitan Assembly, Komenda beach

  • Recordist

    Wiggins, Trevor

  • Abstract

    Item note: Part 1: 'Bewaa' (recreational music). Recording made at Komenda beach near Cape Coast, 11th December 1999. Played by the Dagaba Dance group. Songs performed in Dagaare. This beach is some 25km west from Cape Coast and was chosen because the site at Adisadel has too many interruptions for recording. The drawback is that the noise of the waves is quite prominent. Song titles: (1) Dagaare: Timi waana yee, timi waana yee. Tibanga be tibE banga. Lit Trans: We have come (response - yee) we have come. Whether we know it or not. Meaning: Even though our enemies do not expect it, we have been able to succeed. Notes: Entrance song. Cape Coast version of Ti waana yee. (2) Dagaare: Pgle kang yang nuore, yang nuor, yang nuore. (Repeat) Pgle yang nuor, pgle yang nuor wayaalE bie. Lit Trans: A woman was engaged to a man. (Repeat) Only to be looking after children. Meaning: One suggested meaning: If you are engaged to a man, don’t hesitate. Another woman may take him. (3) Dagaare: Pgleda daa komE daa ni abure kuo maaru yololo. Lit Trans: A woman brought me some pito. What kind of pito? Only watery. Meaning: If you rely too much on a woman you may be disappointed. (4) Dagaare: Dg ziE ar kamaan, dg ziE ar kamaan. Dg ni abuore sig baa ti ar kamaan. Lit Trans: A ‘red-man’ harvests his maize, a ‘red-man’ harvests his maize. What sort of a man goes to the river valley to harvest maize? Meaning: The man who only farms near water is not a man but lazy or a thief. (5) Dagaare: M ba kangkanglile, na pr kangkang lb mE. Lit Trans: My friend kangkang[name of tree] bird, collect the fruit of the kangkang and throw it down to me. Meaning: There is a special bird which nests in the kangkang tree. The man is trying to talk to the bird asking it to throw him some fruit. This is also taken to mean that if you are a good friend, your friends will also help you when you are in need. Notes: Old song from Jirapa. (6 and 7) Dagaare: Dekur kura kura a nyaa ti bul kblu. Dg ni abuore Essig baa te zu kamaan. Lit Trans: A very old bachelor with hair on his chest was yawning with hunger. What sort of man goes to the farm by the river to harvest(steal?) maize. Notes: see connection with ‘Dg ziE ar kamaan’. (8) Dagaare: Zng me, zng bE nyErE yee E kyE nyuur pataasi. Fu na mi zng bE nyErE yee E kyE nyuur klba pu. Lit Trans: Blind person who cannot see, drink alchohol, even you, blind person who cannot see, drink what is in the bottle. Meaning: If you are blind you should not drink alchohol. Cut your coat according to your size. Notes: Old song dating from the 1950's. Composed by Sangnuo Borro. (9) Dagaare: Nasaala kang na ngmaa gan koti a; ti waara yee, ti waara yee. Lit Trans: A white man wrote to invite us; we are coming, we are coming. Meaning: A white man wrote to invite us to perfom and we have accepted. Recordist's note: "I don’t know whether the song refers to this recording or another occasion". (10) Dagaare: Fu saa wakpi baar bEme yilke Naangmin tome na. Fu ma wakpi baar bEme yilke tingan tome na. FudE bangni yirzangla puo kpEb. Lit Trans: When your father dies they say it is God’s work. When your mother dies they say it is nature’s work. You are living in the empty house. Meaning: If you have problems your enemies will say it is your destiny, but they will not help with your problems. (11) Dagaare: Gbande derbE deni ali bie de aza marbe yoyo bie na yele konye maalu E. Lit Trans: The family has spent all the money left for the orphan. The little boy’s case cannot be solved. Meaning: Your father provides the money for a dowry for you to marry, but if your father dies your (uncle’s) family may take all the money so you cannot get married and be a man. (12) Dagaare: Baalu faa na nyg me nkyE bulang naa kpii. Baa wu, dobaa wu, dobaa piila wu, wu za wu nu. Lit Trans: A bad disease infected [me], I nearly died. Dog skin, pig skin, small pig skin, every skin is a skin. Meaning: You can get infectious diseases from anyone. Notes: Cape Coast version of:- Pgle na dg bie (tEr pu) ti kyE bulang naa kpi. Baa wu, dobaa wu, dobaa piila wu, wu za wu nu. (13) Same as item 2 on this recording. (14) Dagaare: AlE saa ipEn ngmaare pEnE kyaana; alE saa kyuure pEnE kyaana. Lit Trans: When it is pieces of cloth it is rag; when it is torn cloth it is rag. Meaning: Your position does not matter, you cannot go against the law. When you are dead you are dead whatever your position. (15) Dagaare: Faarayir gyanklE rbE baarE, Timantio, Timantio, Timantio. Lit Trans: The mission house mice-eater, Timothy, Timothy, Timothy. Meaning: Timothy had been stealing meat from the mission house but when caught he said it was meat from mice he had trapped. Notes: Cape Coast song related to:- Timantio faarayir nyaarku na bElE wa, Timantio faarayir nyaarku na bElE wa, Timantio faarayir nyaarku na bElE wa, Timantio faarayir nyaarku na bElE wa, Timantio, e Timantio, e Timantio. (16) Dagaare: Bye bye, bye bye, bye bye, tikule naa. Lit Trans: Bye bye, we are going home. Meaning: Final song to end a performance and announce the departure of the performers. Part 2: 'Bagrbine' (ritual music for initiation). Recording made at Komenda beach near Cape Coast, 11th December 1999. Played by the Adisadel group. Songs performed in Dagaare. Bagrbine is music used by the Bagri (a secret society) for dancing following initiation and similar ceremonies. Full initiates are believed to be very powerful wizards who can kill people (especially children), then bring them back to life. The Adisadel group do not use Bagri music very much as it should properly be played on a xylophone with a different tuning. Some of these distinctions are not always observed and the group were happy to sing and dance three songs before a heavy shower ended the recording session. Song titles: (1) Dagaare: IkpurE kpurE bag bile na, ikpurE kpurE kyaara puo. Lit Trans: Ugly, ugly, the little fetish priest looks ugly in the corridor. Meaning: The new fetish priest finds his ritual work difficult in there at the corner [presumably referring to some part of the ritual]. (2) Dagaare: Bawr daa bE dugE, bawr saa kurgboru. Lit Trans: The fetish pito was not brewed, the fetish priest is angry. Meaning: The rituals for Bagri demand plenty of pito [beer] and the priest will be angry if this is not brewed. (3) Dagaare: Pag kyenbe, pag kyenbe abagr bE tEr tabEE. Lit Trans: Just hurry to the place, just hurry to the place, the shrine is not approachable. Meaning: Hurry to the fetish shrine and see what is happening i.e. something unholy is happening - perhaps the priest is sleeping with a woman. Part 3: 'Kari' (women's songs). Recording made at Adisadel, Cape Coast, 12th December 1999. Kari is songs for the women to sing and dance. Whereas BEwaa songs have only one verse, it is common for kari songs to have many verses. As with BEwaa, there is a section of singing while the next dancers (usually 2) come into the centre of the circle before they bend down to dance energetically for maybe 30 seconds. This is accompanied by clapping and the sound of the dancers’ feet pounding the ground – clearly heard on the recording. This session was not recorded on video as it would attract too much attention in this location. Song titles: (1 and 2) Dagaare: Adjoa na yelko ama oti gaasir yir, waa ni ana funa waa awaa ni ana funa wa futi gaa asE yir. Lit Trans: Adjoa told her mother she was going to the husband’s house but went to the boyfriend’s house. Meaning: Adjoa told her mother she was going to see here father, but with to see her boyfriend instead. Adjoa lied and deceived her mother and is not to be trusted. (3) Dagaare: Gadozu yelmana nyide yini yong tide danwan nyu. Gadozu yelsebla nyide yini yong tide danwan ngmE. Lit Trans: An issue in the bed and you have taken it outside for a calabash of pito. A black issue in the bed and you have taken it outside for a calabash of pito. Meaning: If you are poor you may make public even your personal affairs for the cost of a calabash of pito [beer]. (4) Dagaare: MaalE me nyu, maalE ma nyu yaa, maalE ma yel kome nyu yaa. Lit Trans: I drink, I drink, is it me who asks him to drink too? Meaning: I cannot be responsible for people who are drinking with me. (5) Dagaare: KEti na ingmen, pg yaar deni dEb yErb libie de keti na ingmen zie nyErE. Keti na ingmen bidErb deni pg yabE libie de kEti na ingmen zie nyaa. Lit Trans: What can we do, sisters have spent the money of our sons, what can we do for the day to break? Sons have spent the money of our daughters, what can we do for the day to be bright? Meaning: What shall we do when our sons and daughters cannot be trusted? It brings the whole place down. (6 and 7) Dagaare: Waare tuo a, sirkulu waare tuo pgkuolu waare nu kporelE. Lit Trans: Brings trouble, marriage brings trouble, while being a batchelor brings independence. (8 and 9) Dagaare: Fu kyaabE imbare nakum atee kuu naa neE kum. Kuu naa neE kum yee, kuu naa neE kuu, anyor ina nyErE. Lit Trans: You have not finished doing me so that you could give me the medicine. I should die, I should die, it will be better than this agony. Meaning: A woman made love to man in exchange for some medicine, but he did not finish then refused to give her the medicine, leaving her in agony. (10) Dagaare: Nyaa nyuo ee kla woyee maalE wa nyE nir pg wa Ersg a, iya na bE tae. Lit Trans: A cat, a cat, if I see a person’s wife and talk to her again my brain is not enough. Meaning: I should not talk to someone else’s wife, having suffered for this before, i.e. don’t repeat your mistakes. (11) Dagaare: Mawre yoyo, mawre yoyo, mawre yoyo kEte nyEn kbE. Wimaa kone, Wimaa kone tekyEn kbE. Lit Trans: Shaking with it, shaking with it, shaking with it ‘til the bones are left. Wimaa crying, Wimaa crying ‘til her bones are out. Meaning: Wimaa [woman’s name] is suffering in a situation she cannot control - perhaps due to her own mistake. (12) Dagaare: Ghana plE me da atee wayarE ne yee pgbE yang [repeat]. Adjoa olE waa, Adjoa olE wa, Adjoa olE wa olE wa nyg tntl lwore. Lit Trans: Ghana boys today buy drugs and get crazy at women [repeat]. Adjoa come back, Adjoa come back, Adjoa come back and take off your pants. Meaning: Ghanaian boys today think they can buy drugs to prevent illness and pregnancy, then try to sleep with as many women as possible. Women should be careful. (13 and 14) Dagaare: Waen, waen fu kyiinE [repeat]. Anna Sewaa fu kyiinE E. Waen, waen fu kyiinE [repeat]. GozielE pgle fu kyiinE. Lit Trans: Tastefully you are cooking [repeat]. Anna Sewaa you are cooking. Tastefully you are cooking. GozielE girl you are cooking. Meaning: Anna Sewaa from GozielE [near Nandom] is a good cook and the man wants to marry her. Notes: Recorded in Cape Coast - but, from the words, probably composed in the north. (15) Dagaare: Goya goo goya goya go lE maali goya. Lit Trans: Has no meaning as such. Possibly a mishearing of the words of another songs now used as vocables. (16) Dagaare: Pgli bang Eru oneliEbe gangaar bE nagrE [repeat]. Gangaare, gangaare, gangaare onaliEbe gangaar bE nagrE. Lit Trans: Women who talk will turn into a gangaar [drum] and be beaten. Gangaar. Gangaar, gangaar, turn into a drum and be beaten. Meaning: A warning to women who gossip about what will happen to them. (17) Dagaare: BEme mura yee NasaalmenE, bEme mura yee NasaalmenE. NasaalmenE maali alepele u do saa. Lit Trans: They do well white people, they do well white people. White people have made the aeroplane to go up. Meaning: Praise to the white man who invented the areoplane. Notes: Cape Coast version of Yaani, yaani yee [repeated several times] Maal a alepele u do saa, nimoorE yee. U do saa nimoorE yee nasaminE maal a alepele u do saa. (18) Dagaare: ng yaare ozrE te nyg tang do, Amasio ma ong yaare ozrE te nyg tang do [repeat]. Lit Trans: Fetching and pouring to climb the hill, Amasio’s mother is fetching and pouring to climb the hill. Meaning: Amasio’s mother was stealing but them thought someone had seen her and ran to the top of a hill. (19 and 20) Dagaare: Dele oo ee [repeat], Dele tEr mE lang ni imaa. Lit Trans: Dele [man’s name] oo ee, Dele has taken me and my mother. Meaning: Dele (cry of surprise) has been sleeping with both a mother and her daughter. (21) Dagaare: Kojo oo, Kojo na wa na. Lit Trans: Kojo oo, Kojo has come. Meaning: A small boy called Kojo had come to join in the women’s dancing.

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    Bewaa (recreational music), Bagrbine (ritual music for initiation) and Kari (women's songs).

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