Tuesday, February 21, 2017

The "Woyo Wo Yo Yo Yo" Lyrics In Bob Marley's "Buffalo Soldiers" Song & Other Songs"

Edited by Azizi Powell

Latest revision August 1, 2018

This pancocojams post showcases Jamaican Reggae singer/composer Bob Marley's song "Buffalo Soldier". Special attention is given to the "woyo wo yo yo yo" lyrics and their possible source in the Jamaican "awoh" expression that is derived from the Igbo (Nigerian) expression "ewoh".

Links to YouTube examples of some other Reggae songs that include the woyo wo yo yo yo" lyrics are also included in this post.

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

All copyrights remain with their owners.

Thanks to Bob Marley for his musical legacy. Thanks also to all those who are quoted in this post and thanks to the publishers of this YouTube video and the other YouTube examples that are noted in this post.

PANCOCOJAMS EDITOR [Revised Feb 22, 2017]
This post includes my speculations about the possible Nigerian source of Bob Marley's lyrics "woyo wo yo yo yo". Other vocalists have also included "wo woyo yo yo" in their songs, possibly because of Bob Marley's popularization of those lyrics.

I have no proof that "woyo wo yo yo yo" is derived from the Jamaican Igbo expression "ewoh" or its Yoruba form "awoh". My supposition is that Jamaican Bob Marley was certainly familiar with the colloquial use of "ewoh", "awoh", or "wo yo", and may have created the adapted chant "woyo wo yo yo yo" from one of those expressions for its rhythmic musicality.

The comments that I read on a (Nigerian) discussion thread suggest that possibility to me - without mentioning the woyo wo yo yo yo chant, Bob Marley, or any other musician/vocalists except for Carriacou's Big Drum dance/song "Ibole Ible Wo Yo". I included some of those comments in this pancocojams post That post features selected comments from a discussion thread t hat explores the possible Igbo sources of and meanings for the lyrics to "Ibole Ibole woy yo". "Ibole Ibole woy yo" is the ong for the Ibo nation dance, which is part of the Caribbean island of Carriacaou's Big Drum Dance.

Excerpts from that pancocojams post are included in the section below that is entitled "Speculative Sources & Meanings Of The "Woyo Wo Yo Yo Yo" Chant.

Also, click for a 2012 pancocojams post entitled "Young, Gifted & Black", "Buffalo Soldiers" And Other Songs About Black Pride".


Bob Marley's Buffalo Soldier [excerpt]

..."Dreadie, woy yoy yoy, woy yoy-yoy yoy,
Woy yoy yoy yoy, yoy yoy-yoy yoy!
Woy yoy yoy, woy yoy-yoy yoy,
Woy yoy yoy yoy, yoy yoy-yoy yoy!
Buffalo Soldier troddin' through the land, wo-ho-ooh!
Said he wanna ran, then you wanna hand,
Troddin' through the land, yea-hea, yea-ea."

Said he was a Buffalo Soldier win the war for America;
Buffalo Soldier, Dreadlock Rasta,
Fighting on arrival, fighting for survival;
Driven from the mainland to the heart of the Caribbean.

Singing, woy yoy yoy, woy yoy-yoy yoy,
Woy yoy yoy yoy, yoy yoy-yoy yoy!
Woy yoy yoy, woy yoy-yoy yoy,
Woy yoy yoy yoy, yoy yoy-yoy yoy!

Troddin' through San Juan in the arms of America;
Troddin' through Jamaica, a Buffalo Soldier# -
Fighting on arrival, fighting for survival:
Buffalo Soldier, Dreadlock Rasta.

Woy yoy yoy, woy yoy-yoy yoy,
Woy yoy yoy yoy, yoy yoy-yoy yoy!
Woy yoy yoy, woy yoy-yoy yoy,
Woy yoy yoy yoy, yoy yoy-yoy yoy! [fadeout]

Ini Kamoze'S "Listen to Me Tic" [excerpt]

sung during three parts of this song "Woyo woyo yo yo"

[TOMT] [SONG] 'woi yo...woi yo yo yo' reggae/hip-hop sample use (self.tipofmytongue)
by SenorButtmunch, 2016
"Technically I don't even know if the thing I'm looking for actually exists but it's worth a shot.
Over the years I've heard a lot of songs - usually reggae/hip-hop/jungle/drum and bass use a certain tune/melody. I think it's most famously used by rapper Foxy Brown in her song 'Oh Yeah' (around 0:25 in). It's a beat I think used initially in Bob Marley's 'Punky Reggae Party' (around 0:10) and I remember hearing it in Ini Kamoze's 'Listen Me Tic' (0:25).

The other day I was at a festival and I remember a DJ playing a mix with a sample of someone doing that same 'wo yo' chant. It was over a drum and bass beat and it got the crowd pretty pumped. I don't know who the DJ was or if it was just an on-the-spot mix but it was good. So if anyone knows of any songs that have that sample in, even if it's not d&b, can you post it so I can get an idea of at least where the sample was from!
tl;dr - wo yoooo, wo yo yo yo"

SamCarterX206I know google-fu, 2016
"It appears you may have already identified it- the Bob Marley song.
If you look at their entries, you'll see that Foxy Brown sampled Bob Marley's "Punky Reggae Party" at approximately the times you mentioned.

And "Punky Reggae Party" has one other song listed as having sampled from the same place, no samples used from other songs listed.

OzRockabella, 2016
I didn't listen to the things, but Buffalo Soldier by Bob Marley contains that 'yoi yoi yoi' chant.
Here are links for the two songs that are mentioned in these comments:
Foxy Brown- Oh Yeah

In addition, Ini Kamoze's Dancehall song "Listen Me Tic" also includes the "woyo yo yo" lyrics.

Do you know any other songs that include the "wo woyo yo yo" lyrics? If so, please add them in the comment section below. Thanks!

From Can Any Ibo Or Yoruba Speakers Help Me?", March 25, 2015

[Pancocojams Editor: I've assigned numbers to these selected comments. These numbers are different than order of the comments in the discussion and are also different than the numbers that I assigned on the previous pancocojams post whose link is given above.]

Comment #1: Can Any Ibo or Yoruba Speakers Help Me? by Carriacou1985(f): 4:06pm On Mar 25, 2015
"I live in England and my Mother is from a small island in the Caribbean called Carriacou. Carriacou is known for holding onto many African traditions but of course after thousands of years these have probably changed from the African traditions brought by their ancestors.

It is known that the people on the island of Carriacou originate from the Ibo, Akan and Temme tribes. We have a tradition that has been past down from our ancestors brought to the island from the slave trade, known as the big drum dance, this is usually done for weddings, deaths ect, in order for the ancestors to bless the ceremony.
I am particularly interested in what we call the Ibo nation dance, a song they sing and dance to is called: Ibole Ibole woy yo

The lyrics are as follows:

Gongo banan plantain me wo yo
Ibole Ibole woy yo
Hele bu Legba wo yo

I wanted to know if any Ibo speakers know if this actually comes from the Nigerian Ibo language?
Just curious about understanding my culture better and hope someone can help, any answers will be appreciated.... Thanks in advance"

Comment #2: bigfrancis21(m): 9:48pm On Mar 25, 2015
..."On deep inspection of the lyrics, the lyrics look a lot Igbo. There are a lot of Igbo words in it such as he', 'bu', 'le', 'ewoh' (or 'awoh' as used in Jamaica - another area with a huge percentage of Igbo-descended peoples). 'Le' and 'ewoh' are Igbo words used for expression. If you watch Nigerian Nollywood movies that portray mostly Igbo culture, you would hear 'ewoh' a lot. Take for example, 'he has died. ewo!', 'i just bought a car. ewo!' I see a lot of 'wo' in the lyrics, probability elongated over the years to 'wo yo', as common with language evolution over time.

Comment #3: ezeagu(m): 10:57pm On Mar 25, 2015
"...I think we can confirm that 'wo yo' is ewoh and that 'Ibole' is Igbo lé.

And I like that you also noticed Jamaicans say awoh. Cha may also be Igbo related."

Comment #4: Nobody: 11:07pm On Mar 25, 2015
...."Wo yo being a meaningless onomatopeic expression. Igbo chants typically use such expressions at the end of a line to keep the rhythm."

Comment #5: absoluteSuccess: 11:37am On Apr 06, 2015
..."wo in Yoruba is to move in one accord from place to place in celebration, it is iwo lu or iwode (e-war-day).

But if your pronounciation is Wo as in Woe, that stands for a shout of joy."

"What exactly is Patwa? Where did the words come from?

It [Patwa] was made from the intermixing of the West African slaves and British, Scottish and Irish settlers in Jamaica... The West African slaves and the British, Scottish, and Irish had interactions with each other for about 300 years!

In the simplest form --> English + West African Languages = Patwa/Patois. The majority of Jamaican slaves were of Igbo, Yoruba, and Akan ethnicity. (Jamaica: Nigeria & Ghana's Little Sister) Similar to many African languages, words are repeated to add emphasis. As a result, many of Jamaican Patwa words are directly, but not exclusively from the languages of the people of these ethnicities.

Currently, I'm researching the origins of many patwa words, and I've found many African words and many 100% Jamaican words (words containing no connections with any African words or English words). I'm guessing three hundred years was a long enough time for the Jamaican people to create some of their own vocabulary....

Igbo Language - Spoken Mostly in Nigeria
[Jamaican word] Awo/Awoh - from "ewo", "ewoh" (expression)"

"ewoh!- oh no!
ewo!, ewo!- exclamation of surprise"

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1 comment:

  1. With regard to the comment quoted in this post about the Nigerian word "chai", I found this comment in a 2012 (Nigerian) discussion that went on for four pages:
    Re: Yoruba Language Is The Most Influential Nigerian Language Outside Nigeria. by BlackPikiN(m): 12:53am On Jan 08, 2012
    "I have also noticed the word "chai", "chei" and "chineke me" in most Nigerian songs. 9ice, tuface has used so many Igbo words in their music.
    Most Nigerians in the diaspora presently use the words chai and chei these days when they type or communicate.
    So is it safe to say Igbo is the most used and influential songs today?
    No! So Igbo and yoruba should please shut up abeg."
    And, though it has nothing directly to do with the topic of this post, here's an explanation for the Nigerian Pidgin English word "abeg":
    "Abeg – Please, but usually not a repentant plea. Example – Abeg! No waste my time!; Which means Please! Don’t waste my time!"
    Although I haven't found any documentation of this, it seems very likely to me that "abeg" came from the English words "I beg you [to] "