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Sunday, November 17, 2013

Roaring Lion - African War Call (Calypso sound file & lyrics)

Edited by Azizi Powell

This post showcases the early Calypso song "African War Call" by Roaring Lion. Information about Roaring Lion & lyrics for that 1939 song are also included in this post. This post also includes information about Roaring Lion as well as brief information & comments about that song, with particular focus on the orisas [orishas] that are mentioned in that song.

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

All copyrights remain with their owners.

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INFORMATION ABOUT ROARING LION
From http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Roaring_Lion
"Roaring Lion (22 February 1908 – 11 July 1999)[2] was a calypsonian (calypso singer/composer). His 65-year career began in the early 1930s and he is best known for his compositions "Ugly Woman" (1933), "Mary Ann" and "Netty, Netty", which are still performed today. The song "If You Wanna Be Happy", which hit number one on the Billboard Hot 100 on 18 May 1963, as well as the R&B singles chart,[3] is based on Roaring Lion's "Ugly Woman".

From a young age, Roaring Lion (de Leon's adopted stage name) became known for his skill in creating calypsos (particularly in his ability to extemporize lyrics on any subject). Contrary to his humble origins, he cultivated a refined stage persona and always appeared sharply dressed. His career officially began in 1924; he cut his first sides in his late teens. He recorded extensively between the 1930s and 1950s, and was one of the calypsonians who deserves the most credit for the increasing international popularity of the genre during this period...

Roaring Lion achieved fame for his linguistic prowess as much as for his catchy tunes. His lyrics, delivered in rapid-fire style, show an impeccable command of the English language (as well as Trinidadian slang), and are replete with witty turns of phrase, humorous metaphors, and clever alliteration and internal rhymes. Of all the early calypsonians, he was by far the most scandalous, with the most banned songs by a large margin."...

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FEATURED SOUND FILE: Roaring Lion & Cyril Monrose Orchestra - African War Call



hectorfromselecta, Uploaded on Dec 14, 2010

shango-related calypso recorded jan 1939 and one of the "war" calypsos of the time...essentially challenges to rival calypsonians by means of lyrical dexterity
-snip-
Another YouTube sound file of this now classic Calyso song can be found at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Uw2KIwPsH44. That sound file has a black & white photograph of Roaring Lion.

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LYRICS: AFRICAN WAR CALL
(Roaring Lion, 1938)

La da de da da de da da dum-a
Ah de de da da de de da de dum
La da da da de de da da da
Ah de de da de la da de da Aja ju oku ro
(Calling the god Ajaja, "Saint Jonaj," who lives in the sea: "Ajaja, my friend")

Yea, aku ro sho aku ro sho
(emphatically requesting Ajaaja to mount a devotee)

Chorus- Ajaja oku ro
Lion- Yea, aku ro sho
Chorus- Ajaja oku ro
Eh ku ro sho aku ro sho
Ajaja oku ro
Sababo !
o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o !
(This call signals the mounting or posession of a dancer by a spirit or god. In this song, a call to several gods, there are several mountings)
All- Ajaja oku ro
Lion- Ku ro sho aku ro sho
Chorus- Ajaja oku ro
Sababo !
o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o!
All- Ajaja oku ro
Lion- Yea, aku ro sho aca 'bailar-oh
Chorus- Ajaja oku ro
Lion- Oku ro
Chorus- Oh-ro kuro ba' me (Oro is a god, a follower of the Ifa god of Medicine and Divination; a possible translation is that the devotee is asking the god Oro to leave but the god stops his request.)
Lion- Oku ro
Chorus- Oh-ro ku-ro ba' me
Lion- Vayase di-yeah
(good bye to the god that has possessed a devotee)
Chorus- Oh-ro ku-ro ba' me
Lion- Son abatala
(son of Abatala; e.g., the person devoted to Abatala and whom is possessed in the dance by Abatala)
Chorus- Oh-ro ku-ro ba' me
Sababo !
o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o!
Lion- Yea oku ro
Chorus- Oh-ro ku-ro ba' me
Lion- Emanja
(or Yemanja, Saint Anne, Oshun's sister, a river goddess)
Chorus- Oh-ro ku-ro ba me
Lion- 'Batala
Chorus- oh-ro ku-ro ba me
Lion- Ajaja
Chorus- Oh-ro ku-ro ba me
Sababa !
o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o!
Lion- Oh ku-ro
Chorus- oh-ro ku-ro ba me
Sababo !
Lion- Vayese di-yeah
Chorus- Oh-ro ku-ro ba me
Lion- Yea a new-war-e [?]
Chorus- Oh-ro ku-ro ba me
Lion- Son Ah-p[v]a-lo-pa
Chorus- oh-ro ku-ro ba me
Lion- Son ah-gu-ro
(The person mounted by Ahguro dancers)
Chorus- Oh-ro ko-ro ba me
Sababo !
o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o!
Lion- Eh! A gu ro
All- Oh-ro ku-ro ba me
(Drums)
Lion- Eh! A gu ro
Chorus- Oh-ro ku-ro ba me.

Lion's version of a Shango song that calls forth several gods who
in turn mount, or possess individual dancers.

Atila the Hun, the scholar-politician-calypsonian of this era, called the part of the song sung to the god Ajaja the "first calypso."

From insert, Calypso Calaloo, Early Carnival Music in Trinidad.
Reference to this era- Donald R. Hill, 1993, Calypso Calaloo: Early Carnival Music in Trinidad.

Posted on http://mudcat.org/thread.cfm?threadid=138380"Songs from Trinidad" by Q, 16 Jun 11 - 02:16 PM

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EDITOR'S COMMENT
In 2011 I posted three comments about Roaring Lion's African War Call on that same Mudcat thread whose link is given above. Those comments provided brief descriptions & links to more information about the Yoruba [actually Lucumi or Candomble] orisas [orishas] whose names are mentioned in that song. Here's the link to the first of those comments: http://mudcat.org/thread.cfm?threadid=138380#3171672. My other comments about that song were posted at 16 Jun 11 - 09:49 PM and 16 Jun 11 - 10:01 PM. Also read Q's response to my first comment.

Among the points that I made in that first comment was that, although that song is entitled "African War Call", and the song's lyrics mentioned a number of orisa, it didn't mention Ogun, the Yoruba orisa of iron, and therefore of war. I therefore concluded that the title of that song was chosen for marketing purposes since the song didn't have anything to do with war. I rescind most of that portion of my comment as I failed to recognize that the war whoops which are heard periodically in that song might be considered to be imitative of stereotypical "African war calls". Those war whoops also sound like stereotypical American Indian war calls.

Also, in that linked comment I admitted that I was unsure about the orisa "Aja" who was mentioned in that song, and I wondered if that orisa was the same as "Ajaja", which is the title of a song performed by the Nigerian percussionist Oluntunji & his group. Click http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=51O2ymTtsR8 for a video of that song.

Since then I've found this information about "Ajaja":
From http://www.olorishas.com/#!erinle--olokun/c1qxd
"Erinle is a hunter orisha. He is the patron deity of Ilobu, an Ijesha town located in south western Nigeria. Ilobu lies along the Erinlè River, a tributary of the Oshun River, on the road from Ogbomosho to Oshogbo. Ilobu is known as a trade centre for the yams, corn, cassava, oil palms, pumpkins, beans, and okra grown in the region.

There are many variations on this orisha's name, he is known as Eyinle in Egbado, Erinle in Ilobu and Enlè in Okuku. In Cuba and Trinidad he is known as Inlè or Erinle 'Ajaja'.* Ajaja is an honorific title meaning 'He who eats dog' and is punned as Àjàjà 'The ferocious one' (Warner Lewis, 1994.) In Brazil, Candomblé Ketu, he is known as Inle or Òxóssi Ibualama.

"Erinle" etymologically means 'elephant (Erin) in (ni) the-earth' (ilè) or 'land-elephant' in standard Yoruba. Erinle is a hunter, healer/herbalist and animal husbander. He has close ties with many orisha, especially Yemaya, Oshun, Oshosi, Ogun, Osain, Oba and Otin.

Inle is an orisha of wealth and prosperity. He bestows abundance to his worshippers and is propitiated in times of sickness and for fertility. Erinle works with Osain, Asohano, Yemaya and Oshun in order to provide medicie for the mind and body and nourishment for the soul. Inle is both telepath and adept diviner. He learned Odu from Orunmila and Yemaya. Inle is both telepath and adept diviner. Abatan accompanies Inle, activating and administering compounds and cures to patients under their care."

*Italics added to highlight that sentence.
-snip-
I leave it to the reader to suss out whether the comment given about the lyrics to Roaring Lion's song that "(Calling the god Ajaja, "Saint Jonaj," who lives in the sea: "Ajaja, my friend")
is accurate. Or maybe that descriptor is a result of the Lucumi syncretism since Oku [Olokun] is the orisa of the oceans [Olo=owner + Okun= oceans http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Olokun.

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Thanks to Roaring Lion for his musical legacy. Thanks also to all those who I quoted in this post and thanks to the publisher of that sound file on YouTube.

Thanks for visiting pancocojams.

Visitor comments are welcome.

1 comment:

  1. As a personal aside, although I know several people who are Lucumi in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, I'm not an adherent of that religion. However, I received a reading from Baba Oseijeman in New York City around 1968 before he and his followers moved to South Carolina to form the Yoruba community of Oyotunji http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Oyotunji

    One of the orisa that Baba Oseijeman said I had [or is it who have me?] is Erinle. Since I'm a twin I also am Ibeji.

    Baba Oserjiman told me several things about my life which have occured - things that he couldn't have known except through some form of divination or extra-sensory perception if they aren't the same thing.

    *Baba Oserjiman was later known as Oba Efuntola Oseijeman Adelabu Adefunmi I.

    ReplyDelete