Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Kenyan welcome song "Wako Wapi" (examples & lyrics)

Edited by Azizi Powell

This post showcases three examples of the Kenyan welcome song "Wako Wapi". Information about the song "Wako Wapi" and suggested lyrics for this song are also included in this post.

The Addendum to this post features a contemporary Kenyan song that is entitled "Wako Wapi". Unfortunately, I can't find a transcription for the lyrics to this song.

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

All copyrights remain with their owners.

Thanks to the Kenyan composers of the Kenyan welcome song "Wako Wapi" and thanks to Tim Gregory who appears to be that song's American collector. Thanks to Freewill for performing the song "Wako Wapi" that is featured in the Addendum to this post. Thanks also to all those who are quoted and all those who are featured in these showcased videos and thanks to the publishers of these videos on YouTube.

From "Kenya Sing & Dance: Music & Movement from East Africa" with Tim Gregory OAKE Workshop Notes March 23, 2013, Copyright 2013 Nada Brahma Productions
[Wako Wapi" is part of a collection of songs that were collected in Kenya] specifically in the village of Wamunyu...The people who live here are Kamba. They speak Kikamba as well as Swahili and English.

["Wako Wapi"] "is a popular welcoming song performed in Wamunyu, Kenya. [The lyrics] "are a simplified version which appear on Kenya Sing & Dance[instructional DVD] .... Here are some lyrics that you can use:

Part A:

Wageni* wako wapi (X 3), twataka kumuona? *
Visitors, where are you, we need to see you?*

Wageni can be replaced with:

wanafunzi – students
walimu – teachers
wazazi – parents

Part B:

Kwanza tuwaone, pili tuwasikie, tatu ni vitendo, ya inne ni furaha.
First we see you, second we hear you, third comes action, fourth comes joy.

Part C:

Chorus - Iye ni wema iye - Oh yea, it’s good, oh yea.
Leaders’ Interjections: Shule ni wema – school is good / Mambo sawa – things are good
The question mark doesn't appear to be consistent with the meaning of the second part of this line.

Example #1: Wako Wapi?, Swahili Song

Tim Gregory Uploaded on Jan 20, 2010
A popular welcoming song in Wamunyu, Kenya. Shown here is a field recording and a simplified classroom version, both which appear on Kenya Sing & Dance. This video also includes a full choral version which was presented at the OAKE Conference in March '09. More info about this song and the KSD package can be found at:

Example #2: Combined Ensembles - Wako Wapi, Kenyan Welcome Song

Andrew McGrath, Published on Dec 17, 2013

Camelot 4th, 5th and 6th choruses.

Example #3: Wageni Wako Wapi

tinjarir Published on Apr 9, 2014

Students of elementary Kiswahili at Ohio University sing a Kiswahili welcoming song.
Lyrics: [Sung in a call & response pattern]
Wageni wako wapi [Where are the visitors?]

Twataka kumuona. [We want to see you.]

ADDENDUM: A contemporary Kenyan song entitled "Wako Wapi"

Freewill - Wako Wapi? (Official Video) 2014

Docta Eddie, Published on Jun 3, 2014

Contemporary Urban Kenyan Music...Freewill performing the song Wako Wapi? Produced and Directed by Dr. Eddie, Dreamland Music Studios Nairobi.. ©Dreamland Music Group 2014

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  1. I'm singing this for Black History Month at my school. Thank you for having the lyrics and a couple of videos so I can practice.

    1. Unknown, Sorry that I somehow missed your comment.

      I'm glad that I happened upon this song while searching YouTube for African songs. It's good to know that it's being sung for Black History month!