Thursday, October 19, 2017

Trinidadian Folk Song & Children's Game Song "Afouyèkè" (information, video, & lyrics)

Edited by Azizi Powell

This pancocojams post showcases the the Trinidadian song "Afouyèkè". According to a book on Eastern Caribbean game songs entitled Brown Girl In The Ring, "Afouyèkè" is performed as a dance song by adults. A YouTube video which is embedded in this post shows children performing a game while singing this song.

The content of this post is presented for folkloric, cultural, and recreational purposes.

All copyrights remain with their owners.

Thanks to all those who are featured in this video and thanks to Alan Lomax, J. D. Elder, and Bess Lomax Hawes for editing the 1997 Brown Girl In The Ring: An Anthology Of Song Games From The Eastern Caribbean. That book included lyrics for and information about the Trinidad & Tobago Children's Game "Afouyèkè". Thanks also to the publisher of this videos on YouTube.

SHOWCASE VIDEO -Trinidad Patois Ring Game- Afouyèkè- Caribbean yard Campus Patois Class, Talparo

katvixenchick, Published on Oct 23, 2016
This game was performed by adult women and school aged girls and boys.

LYRICS "AFOUYEKE" (version #1)
[English version from the video that is embedded in this post:

Oh, sweet Mama
Sweeter than sugar
Sweeter than syrup
Oh, sweet Mama
Stones to cut down trees
Open the ring
Open it in time
Close the ring
Close it in time
Dance in the ring
Dance in time
Yekay for us to see

[repeat the words to this song any number of times]
ring = the circle
Yekay - This word is used as a verb for any type of dance move that the person in the middle chooses to do.
Pancocojams Editor's Note:
From It doesn't appear that the gender of the line "Oh sweet Mama" changes when a male goes into the center of the ring (circle). However, groups who perform this song may chose to sing "Oh, sweet Papa" when a male is the center person.
The lyrics to Version #2 is slightly different from version #1 and the spelling for some of the same patois words in both versions are slightly different.

LYRICS: "AFOUYEKE" (Version #2)
"Sung by the Rose Of Sharon Friendly Society Chorus in Blanchisseuse, St. George, Trinidad


Solo - Afouyèkè
Dou man-dou manman
Group - Afouyèkè
Solo - ròuch gwo lariviè gonmbo

(Alternation continues)

Hach ka hachè bwa -
Machè laronn-la- come into the game
Ouvè -laronne-la
Dansè -laronne-la
Yèkè pou mwen ouè-ou
O dou manman
Dou – dou manman

Solo - Afouyèkè
Group- Oh, my sweet mama
slippery river stones
Solo -axes cutting wood

(Alternation continues)

come into the game
Open up the game
Dance into the game
Twist so I can see
Oh, see mama
Sweet. Sweet mama

This is not a true game, just a circle with partners dancing in the middle; as they tire, they rejoin the circle and others take their place. The dancers improvise their movements in response to the soloist's lead lines, each one different, each one joyous, inside the supportive circle underneath the Caribbean night sky."

Pancocojams Editor's Note: The source for both of these lyric forms (for Version #2) is Brown Girl In The Ring: An Anthology Of Song Games From The Eastern Caribbean, editors: Alan Lomax, J. D. Elder, and Bess Lomax Hawes < (New York, Pantheon Books, 2997, page 59)


From Alan Lomax, J. D. Elder, and Bess Lomax Hawes for editing the 1997 Brown Girl In The Ring: An Anthology Of Song Games From The Eastern Caribbean (New York, Pantheon Books, 2997, page 58, 59)
The Rose Of Sharon singers of Trinidad are bilingual though most of their songs are in English, this adult dance song is in the Creole language. The singable English translation given here is not as poetic as the Creole text but approximates its literal meaning. This song demonstrates well the characteristic two-phrase litany of West Africa: the second phrase, "Afouyèkè" (probably an African word), being repeated over and over by the group, he lead singer's brief, improvised poetic phrases being thrown in in no particular order. This is a very frequent dance accompaniment style in the Lesser Antilles."
Pancocojams Editor's note:
Out of curiosity, I searched for results in Google translate for the word "Afouyèkè". Here are three results:
Yoruba (Nigeria, West Africa) = Opportunity

Igbo (Nigeria, West Africa) = Opportunity

Haitian Creole - Awakening

These definitions fit how "Afouyèkè" is used in these songs. I think that it's very possible that the word "Afouyèkè" (and yèkè) in this Trinidadian song comes from either Yoruba or Igbo or both languages. And it's also very possible that the meaning of that word was changed to "awakening" in Haitian Creole. If the word "Afouyèkè did originally come from Yoruba and/or Igbo, note how the meaning of yèkè" (yekay) was further changed to mean some type of dance move.

I wonder if there's any connection between the word "afouyèkè" in this song and the word "yèkè" in the title of the 1990s hit Guinean song "Yeke Yeke".

Click for a pancocojams post about the Yeke Yeke" from Guinea, West Africa.

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