Thursday, August 2, 2018

Comments About The South African Meanings Of The Word "Wololo"

Edited by Azizi Powell

This pancocojams post documents comments from YouTube discussion threads and other internet sites about the South African meanings/s (i.e. not the Age of Empires game meaning) of the word "wololo".

The content of this post is presented for linguistic and cultural purposes.

All copyrights remain with their owners.

Thanks to all those who are quoted in this post.
Note that this post documents comments about the South African meanings of the word "wololo" and not the meaning of the 2016 mega hit South African dance song "Wololo" by Babes Wodumo ft Mampintsha although the composers of that song popularized (and may have coined) most or all of the particular meanings or the word "wololo" which are included in this post.

Click for a pancocojams post about the song Wololo and its official video. A vlog of the UK based The Ubunifu Space's reaction to that "Wololo" video is also featured in that post.

Note: I've chosen to begin this post with this information because the word "wololo" is so closely associated with the highly regarded Age Of Empire games. However, the Age Of Empire meaning of "wololo" has nothing to do with the South African meanings of this word.

First, here's information about Age Of Empire:
"Age of Empires is the original history based real-time strategy computer game set in antiquity. The game was developed by Ensemble Studios and published by Microsoft. It was first released in North America on 15 October 1997.

Age of Empires was later updated with the The Rise of Rome expansion pack. This added several new units and civilizations as well as additional features that enhance gameplay efficiency and aesthetics.

A remastered version was announced on 12 June 2017, and released on 20 February 2018."...

Here's information about the word "wololo" in the context of the Age of Empires games:
"Wololo" is the battle cry of the Priest unit featured in the 1997 historical real-time strategy game Age of Empires. Due to its association with the Priest's mystical ability to assume control of an opponent's unit through conversion, the sound effect has gained notoriety among the fans as one of the most dreaded stock lines from the game. Online, the phonetic transcription of the chant is used as a taunt and an interrupter, which in turn prompts visual responses that indicate a switch of color between red and blue.

In Age of Empires, the first installment in the strategy game series produced by Ensemble Studios and released in 1997 by Microsoft, the Priest is a civilian unit with special abilities to heal friendly units and convert enemy units. While casting the spell of "conversion," the Priest utters a distinct battle cry ("wololo"), which soon became associated with bad omen among the fans of the game. Upon completion, the color of the targeted unit's attire changes from red to blue (or blue to red).

On June 7th, 2005, YTMND user oftoronto created a page titled "You are being converted" (shown below, left) which gained over 8.600 views and a 3.73 out of 5 star rating in ten years.[2] On September 16th, 2006, YTMND user Jokerkaaos created a page titled "Wololo!" (shown below, right) which gained over 35.000 views and a 3.85 out of 5 stars in eight years.[3]”...
Then again, I don't know how the creators of the Age of Empires games came up with the word "wololo". It's possible that they lifted the word "wololo" from an African language -South African or otherwise- and gave it a new meaning. However, if that is the case, I don't know whether that has been documented.

The official YouTube video for Babes Wodumo ft Mampintsha's dance song "Wololo" was published on YouTube on June 24, 2016 by West Ink TV Mampintsha. Click for that video.*

The song's lyrics are in isiZulu and from KwaZulu Natal (Durban, South African) slang. "Wololo" is an example of South Africa's Gqom music which, if I understand it correctly, is a form of Afro-House music.

Reflecting the fact that "Wololo" is a mega hit in South Africa as well as in many other African nations and elsewhere in the world, the official YouTube video for that song has gone viral with 8,565,553 total views (as of August 1, 2018 at 11:43 PM EST).

The familiarity with this song in the United States may be largely attributed to Babes Wodumo ft Mampintsha's "Wololo" being featured in the blockbuster 2018 American blockbuster movie Black Panther (in the beginning of the scene when T'Challa walks into his sister's lab, and the discussion of that song's usage in multiple YouTube discussion threads. Here's a line to a clip of that scene
*Note that some scenes in that video may not be suitable for children because of the camera's focus on women's butts.

Based on its use in Babes Wodumo ft Mampintsha's song, "wololo" is pronounced "woh-LOH-loh".

The content of this pancocojams post reflects that several meanings have been attributed for the South African (and/or other African cultures') word "wololo" including the assertion that this word doesn't have any fixed definition, but can mean whatever anyone wants it to mean.

This post includes all the definitions that I've found as of this date. Additions and corrections are welcome.

The internet sources for these comments are numbered for referencing purposes only and the comments from those sources are also numbered for referencing purposes only.

Excerpt #1:
From "Babes Wodumo ft Mampintsha - "Wololo" [official video]
1. Alex F, 2017
"Came here for authentic Wololo!

Was heavily disappointed."

2. Mwafrika Mkenya, 2017
"Alex F Bantu and Nilotic tribes all across Africa have been saying the word Wololo since the beginning of civilization, talking about auntetism. We've been using the word even b4 age of empires or TV"
I'm not sure what the word "auntetism" means. Could it be a typo for "antecedent"?

In the comment section for this post that is found below I've referred to some online comments about the possible connection between certain Igbo and/or Yoruba (Nigeria, West African) words and the chant "woyoyo" that is found in some Caribbean Reggae songs such as Bob Marley's "Buffalo Soldier" and Ini Kamoze'S "Listen to Me Tic".

3. Danielle Ya E. MANDA, 2017
"what does Wololo means pliz?"

4. Bongumusa Vincent, 2017
This is the most often cited meaning of "turn up" that I've come across online.

"Turn up" originated in African American Vernacular English and means "having fun" (at a party or elsewhere), "being hyped"; "going wild", "getting loose" (i.e. letting go of your inhibitions and therefore being your real self). As noted in this 2014 article entitled "What Does It Really Mean to ‘Turn Up’", "when [rapper] Lil Jon asks us “turn down for what?” in his chart-topping single “Turn Down for What” featuring DJ Snake, ....the listener is obligated to bellow back “NOTHING"."...

Excerpt #2
From Babes Wodumo ft. Mampintsha – Wololo (South Africa), published by urbanaafricaclub, no dated given
..."While ‘Wololo’ translates into „Wohoo!“ and was meant to spread awareness of the consequences of drug abuse: „ …the next day you won’t remember where you ended up sleeping, Wololo…!“
The second half of this sentence is one description that is given for the meaning of the song "Wololo".

Example #3:
From "Babes Wodumo ft Mampintsha - Wololo ( REACTION VIDEO )"
1. Ngasiirwe Katushabe, 2017
..."Wololo" is actually more an ad-libbed word that can change meaning but thanks to Babes nkw [now] generally refers to the way she uses it in this song.

South African languages like Xhosa and Zulu invent new words for emphasis on things everyday, many of which coming about as a result of the sound of something or the feeling of what is meant.
This commenter (who referred to himself or herself as "Ngasii the Context Kid" posted a long explanation about the song "Wololo", including some Zulu to English translations of the song's lyrics. This complete comment is included in this pancocojams post:

2. Sparks Chiliza, 2017
"Wololo means (Turn Up/Have Fun) ."

3. Zama Dladla, 2017
"Far from it honestly. It's just an exclamation like "Yeah" . Literal meaning when someone says it it means they are giving an approval or praise to someone who is good at something. For example if dancers compete and then this one particular dancer who's really good comes in I may just say "Wololo" in anticipation or say it out loud if I am enjoying the way the dancer does his/her moves."

4. Mongameli Productions, 2017
"Sparks Chiliza πŸ˜‚πŸ˜‚πŸ˜‚πŸ˜‚lies"

5. nothando bhengu, 2017
"nope its an exclamation of approval"

6. Songezo Mbebe, 2017
"Wololo doesnt really have a meaning, it could mean whatever you want it to mean"

7. thabo selepe, 2017
"means turn up, the song is basically about turning up and tomorrow you have no idea what happened and where you woke up..."

Example #4
..." You hear this song ‘Wololo’ everywhere… (I’ve been told that the translation of Wololo = Wololo… I understand it to mean something like “whoo!”)"

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1 comment:

  1. I'm intrigued by the comment given as Excerpt #1, comment #2 in this post that "wololo" is a very old word that was used by Bantu and Nilotic populations all across Africa.

    In a 2017 pancocojams post entitled "The "Woyo Wo Yo Yo Yo" Lyrics In Bob Marley's "Buffalo Soldiers" Song & Other Songs" I quoted some internet commenters who speculated or suggested that the "woyo" chant in some Bob Marley songs and some other Caribbean songs was derived from certain Nigerian (Igbo and/or Yoruba) words, particularly "ewo" and/or "iwo lu" or "iwode".

    For example, here are two comments from this 2015 discussion on the Nigerian discussion thread "Can Any Ibo or Yoruba Speakers Help Me?"

    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."