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Saturday, January 26, 2013

Harry Belafonte- "Kwela" ("Listen To The Man"), lyrics & comments

Edited by Azizi Powell

This post is Part I in a two part series that showcase two songs that are entitled "Kwela".

Part I of this series showcases a video of, information about, and English lyrics for the song "Kwela" as performed by world renown singer, actor, and activist Harry Belafonte. That song's lyrics, and my comments about the meaning of several words in that song are also included in this post.

Click http://pancocojams.blogspot.com/2013/01/mafikizolo-kwela-south-africa-video.html for Part II of this series features the song "Kwela" as performed by the South African group Mafikizolo. The Mafikizolo video "Kwela" also features the legendary South African musician & vocalist Hugh Masekela.

The content of this post is presented for historical, entertainment, and aesthetic purposes.

All copyrights remain with their owners.

FEATURED VIDEO: Harry Belafonte - Kwela



henkrut, Published on Mar 30, 2012

Live On Dutch TV
-snip-
This video includes Dutch* subtitles.
*I think this language is Dutch.
-snip-
Click http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=k6_bYQOU3-Y for a video of a 1997 concert performance of Harry Belafonte singing "Kwela" ("Listen To The Man").

LYRICS: KWELA (LISTEN TO THE MAN)
Songwriters: JAKE HOLMES, S.M. NKABINDE

Here comes the doo doo, flying up the street
Running like the fire burning on his feet
Casting his eye left to the right
Looking for a place he can duck out of sight

Here come the goomba goomba, rumbling up the road
Looking for somebody to fill up the load
A big fat cat he had, get off the bag
Scooping up the striker, lest given him a whack

Come on boy, jump inside
Come on, boy, we gonna take you for a ride
It's an excursion, where you don't have to pay
At the end of the line you'll find a place to stay

(Kwela, kwela)
You better listen to the man
(Kwela, kwela)
Everybody jump in the van

(Kwela-la, kwela-la, oh, kwela-la)
You better listen to the man
(And we're shouting kwela-la, kwela-la)
Everybody jump in the van

Now, doo doo, he doin', doin' pretty well
He got a private room at the the Blue Hotel
Everyday he gets a complimentary meal
Maybe check out soon if can make a deal

He wanna play music out on the street
I'm sure you got your Nike's tight on your feet
Better make sure that you stay outta sight
For the Chakalas when he got a big appetite

Come on boy, jump inside
Come on, boy, we gotta take you for a ride
It's an excursion where you don't have to pay
At the end of the line you'll find a place to stay

(Kwela, kwela)
You better listen to the man
(Kwela, Kwela)
Everybody jump in the van

(Kwela-la, kwela-la, oh, kwela-la)
You better listen to the man
(Keep on shouting kwela-la, kwela-la)
Everybody jump in the van

Come on boy, jump inside
Come on, boy, we gonna take you for a ride
It's an excursion where you don't have to pay
At the end of the line you'll find a place to stay

(Kwela, kwela)
You better listen to the man
(Kwela, kwela)
Everybody jump in the van

I said, you better, you better
(Kwela-la, kwela-la, oh, kwela-la)
You better listen to the man
(Keep on shouting kwela-la, kwela-la)
Everybody, everybody, everybody jump in the van

I said, hey, doo doo, hey, doo doo
(Kwela, kwela)
You better listen to the man
Hey, doo doo, hey, doo doo
(Kwela, kwela)
Everybody jump in the van

I said, hey, doo doo, hey, doo doo
(Kwela-la, kwela-la, oh, kwela-la)
You better listen to the man
(Keep on shouting, kwela-la, kwela-la)
Hey, doo doo, hey, doo doo
Everybody jump in the van

Kwe-kwe-kwela, kiwela kwela
Kwe-kwe-kwela, kiwela kwela
Kwe-kwe-kwela, kiwela kwela
Kwe-kwe-kwela, kiwela kwela

You gotta jump down, turn around, pick a pocket
Jump, turn, I wanna lay
You gotta jump and turn, pick a pocket
Jump, turn, I wanna lay

You gotta jump and turn, pick a pocket
Jump, turn, I wanna lay
You gotta jump and turn, pick a pocket
Jump, turn, I wanna lay

Pick it, I wanna lay
Pick it

Hey, doo doo, hey, doo doo
You better listen to the man
Hey, doo doo, hey, doo doo
Everybody jump in the van

I said, you better, you better
(Kwela, kwela)
You better listen to the man
Everybody, everybody
(Kwela, kwela)
Everybody jump in the van

I said, hey doo doo, hey, doo doo
(Kwe-kwe-kwela, kiwela kwela)
You better listen to the man
Hey, doo doo, hey, doo doo
(Kwe-kwe-kwela, kiwela kwela)
Everybody jump in the van

Lyrics from http://www.lyricsmode.com/lyrics/h/harry_belafonte/kwela_listen_to_the_man.html
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Another online lyric site, http://www.elyrics.net/read/h/harry-belafonte-lyrics/kwela-(listen-to-the-man)-lyrics.html provides this information about Harry Belafonte's song "Kwela"
"Album: An Evening With Harry Belafonte & Friends / Original Release Date: 1997-08-26
Genre: Vocal / Label: 1997 The Island Def Jam Music Group".

****
Here's my interpretation of the colloquial words that are found in Harry Belafonte's "Kwela" ("Listen To The Man")
Kwela (Listen To The Man) is a danceable song (1) with a rather esoterically given commentary about the oppressive conditions under which Black people lived in apartheid South Africa. I use past tense because apartheid is said to have ended in 1994(2) while this song's date is given as 1997.

(1) This song may be an example of the South African rhythm called "Kwela", perhaps also with touch of Mento/Calypso-like Caribbean rhythm since this is Harry Belafonte singing. I'm not sure what genre of music this song fits into. If anyone knows, please share that information in the comment section.
-snip-
Notice that a musician is playing a "kwela" (pennywhistle) in the video of this song that is embedded in this post.
(2)Click http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Apartheid_in_South_Africa to read about apartheid.
**
In the context of this song, "kwela" and "kwela kwela" in the context of this song refer to the South African Apolice van, and/or the police.
From http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kwela
"Kwela is a pennywhistle-based, street music from southern Africa with jazzy underpinnings and a distinctive, skiffle-like beat. It evolved from the marabi sound and brought South African music to international prominence in the 1950s...

South Africa has many meanings of words, but for this, it mainly and the most common is [sic]The word "kwela" is taken from the Zulu for "get up", though in township slang it also referred to the police vans, the "kwela-kwela". Thus, it could be an invitation to join the dance, as well as serving as a warning. It is said that the young men who played the pennywhistle on street corners also acted as lookouts to warn those enjoying themselves in the shebeens of the arrival of the police.[1]"
-snip-
Along with "kwela and "kwela kwela" "Goomba goomba", "jump in the van" also refer to police vans. I don't know the derivation of the double noun "goomba goomba" comes from, but the phrase "jump in the line" is a nod to one of Harry Belafonte's hit songs "Jump In The Line".
**
In this song, "The Man" means "The White man" (or "White men") who are (were) representative of the repression of apartheid South Africa. In this and in other usages, "the man" is a shortened form of "the man who is in charge."
**
In the context of this song, "doo doo" is a referent for a Black man (or "Black men"). "Doo doo" here is a shortened form of the doo doo bird. As such, in this song "doo doo" means "a foolish man who thinks that he can survive South Africa's system by engaging in illegal activities such as picking pockets.

Other meanings for "doo doo" or "dou dou" which are compltely unrelated to this song are given in this post's Addendum.
**
The lines "A big fat cat he had/ get off the bag/Scooping up the striker" refers to the police van grabbing up other people.
**
The word "Chakalas" in the lines "Better make sure that you stay outta sight/For the Chakalas when he got a big appetite" also refers to the police vans or the police. I don't know what the derivation is for the word "chakalas".
**
"The Blue Hotel" refers to prison. I'm not sure why that is.

ADDENDUM
Here are other meanings for the words "Doo Doo" and "Dou Dou"
Here some additional information about the word "doo doo", the nicknamee "Dou Dou", and the word "dou dou":

"Doo doo" - a Caribbean Creole [patois] for "my darling" (sweetheart). Click http://www.izatrini.com/trini_dictionary.html and http://answers.yahoo.com/question/index?qid=20080208082428AAvpblp

Also, from http://babyology.com.au/toys/doudou-french-for-a-beloved-snuggly.html "The most treasured item in a child’s life can be anything from a cute cuddly to a tatty old blanket (moi!) or a well-loved dolly. In France, this item is called a ‘doudou’ and it’s THE mission of parents to locate the perfect one before baby is born."

Click http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Doudou" for a list of famous people with the nickname “Dou Dou”.

An example of a famous person with the nickname "Dou Dou" is http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Doudou_N'Diaye_Rose "Doudou Ndiaye Rose (28 July 1930), born Mamadou Ndiaye in Dakar, is Senegalese drummer composer and band leader, and is the recognized modern master of Senegal's traditional drum, the sabar"...

With regard to the word "doo doo", it's my position that the word "doo doo", meaning "sweetheart" is also found in several American shanty songs. I believe that one such song is "Yeller Gels Doodle Let Me Go". Click http://mudcat.org/thread.cfm?threadid=49421#2585472 Lyr Req: Yeller Gals - Doodle or Do Not?Yeller Girl" to find one of my comments about the meaning of the word "doo doo" in that shanty.

Incidentally, it's indisputable that the term "yellow girls" in that above mentioned shanty, and in other 19th century Black American and & Caribbean songs means "a light skinned Black female, usually of mixed Black/non-Black ancestry".

Finally [with regard to this addendum], a comment in http://forum.wordreference.com/showthread.php?t=21659 indicates that in France "Dou Dou" is sometimes a nickname for "Edouard".

RELATED LINK
http://pancocojams.blogspot.com/2013/01/mafikizolo-kwela-south-africa-video.html Mafikizolo - Kwela (South Africa), video & comments

ACKNOWLEDGEMENT AND THANKS
Thanks to Harry Belafonte and other vocalists & musicians in this post's featured video. Thanks to the composers of this song and the transcriber of that song. In addition, thanks to those whose wrote information or comments that are quoted in this post.

Also, thank you for visiting pancocojams.

Viewer comments are welcome

2 comments:

  1. Thanks for sharing this with us! Some really amazing features.

    ReplyDelete