Song Lyrics

Song Lyrics

VESSELS is a devised performance work, created through the iterative and collaborative efforts of the many wonderful performers/co-creators that have engaged in the development process since 2016. In addition to devised sound and movement scores, we traveled to the African continent twice and to deepen our knowledge of some of the embodied technologies and repertoires of our ancestors. Our research began in Zimbabwe, Senegal, Benin, and Ghana, studying songs and dances associated with community recognition of traditionally important moments in women’s lives—birth, death, menstruation, marriage, and war. In further study, we deepened our knowledge of the repertoires of the Ewe, Dangmbe, Ashanti, Fante, and Ga people of Ghana, and integrated music from Equatorial Guinea. We thank our teachers: Gideon F. Alorwoyie, Kyerema Kwamena Pra, David Babyquaye, and Prosper Ablordey. Here are the lyrics and translations to the songs that appear in the performance.

KLAMA
These songs come from the Dangmbe people. Traditionally, when girls begin to menstruate, they leave their villages to go study the ways of womanhood with elders. These songs are sung to celebrate when the young women return home.

Naa wu la y౬ nu wo didorm
Translation: All of the things you’re learning to become a woman; to get food, fetch water, and prepare the home for a visitor.
Teacher: David Babyquaye, University of Ghana, Legon, Department of Theater and Dance

Call:
Naa wu la y౬ nu wo didorm
Ku ma ye le e e
Naa wu la ye nu wo didorm
Ku ma ye le
Ya ne nuo

Response:
Eeeee
Ku ma ye le e e
Naa wu la ye nu wo didorm
Ku ma ye le
Ya ne nuo


ADOWA
These songs come from the Ashanti people, sung in Twi, and are used as part of collective mourning.

Mekϭ mampong dwa
Translation: I went to Mekϭ market, and death visited my house
Teacher: David Babyquaye, University of Ghana, Legon, Department of Theater and Dance

Call and Response:
Mekϭ mampong dwa
Mekϭ mampong dwa, me bae me bae
Obibe nhwe de౬ owuo ay౬ oo


Nana Ebo
**This is a heralding song to announce that a royal person is approaching
Teacher: David Babyquaye, University of Ghana, Legon, Department of Theater and Dance

Call and Response:
Nana ebo, Nana eba
Nana ebo, Nana eba
Eeeh … Nana ebo eeh eeh
Y౬n nyinaa Nana ebo ooo
Mogye no taa taa


DIRGES
These dirges were traditionally sung by women. They were also sung during the marches of slave coffles from the interior to the coast, as people were captured and sold into the slave trade. All sung in Fante.

Nyame
Translation: God bring your spirit, Your spirit so that we don’t get sick,
Your spirit to do all things, Your spirit to save us from the devil/demon/these white men
Teacher: Mr. Kyerema Kwamena Pra,
TWERAMMPON TRADITIONALS, Cape Coast Castle, Ghana

Call:
Nyame e fa wo sunsum bra o (x2)
Sunsum a wadze sa yareba

Response:
Nyame e fa wo sunsum bra o

Call:
Sunsum a wadze y౬ adze

Response:
Nyame e fa wo sunsum  bra o

Call:
Sunsum a wadze tu mbϭnsam

Response:
Nyame e fa wo sunsum  bra o

Inam Nyaa
Translation: The creator will come in his time and change things around for us.
Teacher: Mr. Kyerema Kwamena Pra,
TWERAMMPON TRADITIONALS, Cape Coast Castle, Ghana

Call:
Inam nyaa enyi dado nyame o

Response:
Inam nyaa obaba djebey౬ ne djuomo

Call:
Adomnya ma baba baba ma orusu edje s౬
Onamo, enyi dado nyame o

Response:
Inam nyaa obaba djebey౬ ne djuomo

Nsu ye eduro
Translation: Water is medicine. God is there. Water is medicine all days.

Call:
Nsu ye eduro, nsu ye eduro
Onyame wϭhϭ nsu ye eduro
Nsu ye eduro oo da
Nyame wϭhϭ

Response:
Nsu ye eduro, nsu ye eduro
Onyame wϭhϭ nsu ye eduro
Nsu ye eduro oo da


Ë Hatta A Betta Apebba
(An Agreement Between Two Sisters)
By Hijas del Sol
Sung in Bubi, from Equatorial Guinea

Translation: Sister of mine, who comes to the sea day after day. You and I made a promise. We said we’d struggle against all odds and stick together. Come out from wherever you are. Come down from the mountain ranges or separate the waves, but please come. O Spirit, before being born, you made us a promise. I hope you don’t forget, and that I can put my trust in you. And now, I will dance to celebrate the memory of my sister.


Lalemuloo
This Ewe ritual is to call a drowned body back after the river has taken someone can swept them out to sea. The petitioners gather at the sea pour libation to call the spirits of the ocean and plead to them to return the body so that it can be found and buried. Sing and drum until the body returns.

Translation: I am pleading, I’ve been trapped. My only son has been taken by the water/the sea.
Teacher: Mr. Kyerema Kwamena Pra,
TWERAMMPON TRADITIONALS, Cape Coast Castle, Ghana

Call:
Lalemuloo (ee) lalemalema
Nyedeka mekye too do m౬
Lalemalema

Response:
Lalemuloo lalemalema
Nyedeka mekye too do m౬
Lalemuloo ahoo


GAHU
These songs come from the Ewe people and are traditionally sung to celebrate marriage. Gahu means “money” and is used to showcase affluence and wealth.

Greeting Song
Teachers: David Babyquaye, University of Ghana, Legon, Department of Theater and Dance
+ Mr. Kyerema Kwamena Pra,
TWERAMMPON TRADITIONALS, Cape Coast Castle, Ghana


Call:
Gahu eeh
Gahu viwo do gbe na me lo oo

Response:
Gahu eeh
Gahu viwo do gbe na me loo

Call:
Mie do gbe

Response:
Gahu mie do gbe

All:
Mie do gbe, Gahu mie do gbe
Gahu eeh
Gahu viwo do gbe na me lo oo
Gahu eeh
Gahu viwo do gbe na me lo oo


KPANLOGO
These songs come from the Ga people and are traditionally sung to celebrate the weaning of a child from their mother’s breast.

Song to call the Kpanlogo dance

Call:
Kpanlogo Oseye

Response:
Yee ayee

All:
Kpanlogo yee
Kpanlogo yee ayee

Teachers: David Babyquaye, University of Ghana, Legon, Department of Theater and Dance
+ Mr. Gideon F. Alorworyie, University of North Texas, College of Music


AGBEKOR
These songs come from the Ewe people and are traditionally sung as part of preparation for war/battle.

Call:
Se se o se le o

Response:
Aho aho aho

All:
Enyo lo, egble lo, aho oo

Call:
Kalenga menya heya o
Tú dagbe do
Gbe magbe do

Response:
Kalenga menya heya o
Gbe magbe do
Bebe do