Monday, May 9, 2016

Eight Examples OF The South African Lullaby "Tula Baba" (Thula Mama, Tula Sana & Other Similar Titles)

Edited by Azizi Powell

This post showcases eight YouTube examples of the South African (Zulu) lullaby "Tula Baba" ("Thula Mama", "Tula Sana" & Other Similar Titles). Information about this song and Zulu lyrics with English translations to some of these examples are given after those videos or sound files. The same or similar lyrics and their translations may be slightly different.

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

All copyrights remain with their owners.

Thanks to the unknown composer/s of this South African folk song. Thanks to the composers, arrangers, and the performers of these featured versions of this song.

This is only a small number of versions of Tula Baba" ("Thula Mama", "Tula Sana" etc) that are available on YouTube. Those examples can be found by title using YouTube's search engine.

These examples of this Zulu lullaby are presented in alphabetical order based on that version's title, i.e. the examples titled "Tula Baba" (or "Thula Baba") are given before the examples titled "Tula Mama" (or "Thula Mama") etc. The examples with the same title are given in chronological order based on their publishing date on YouTube with the oldest dated example given first.

Example #1: Tula Baba song - Miriam Makeba

bethulie13 , Uploaded on Jan 29, 2009

The Zulu's use this song to help their crying babies to relax and then sleep.

Song text:
Tula Tu Tula baba Tula sana Tul'umam 'uzobuya ekuseni Tula Tu Tula baba Tula sana Tul'umam 'uzobuya ekuseni (be silent baby keep silent mama will be back in the morning). Hush my baby close your eyes Time to fly to paradise Till the sunlight brings you home You must dream your dreams alone Tula Tu Tula baba Tula sana Tul'umam 'uzobuya ekuseni Tula Tu Tula baba Tula sana Tul'umam 'uzobuya ekuseni (be silent baby keep silent mama will be back in the morning).

Hush my baby go to sleep I'll be with you counting sheep Dreams will take you far away Sleep until the break of day Tula Tu Tula baba Tula sana Tul'umam 'uzobuya ekuseni (be silent baby keep silent mama will be back in the morning). Dudududududud ...
"Thula" is a clip (shortened form) of the isiZulu word for peace "ukuthula".[Source: Google translate] "Thula" is also written as "tula". "Thula" is also used as a Zulu female name. [Source:

Here are some notes about another version of this song from also includes the same or similar lyrics for this song.
"Thula Baba is traditional Zulu lullaby. Sometimes it's called "Thula Thul"...

This song is sometimes sung about the "father" or "little man" (using "baba" and "ubaba"), sometimes "mama"(using "mama" or "umama"). In some versions, you'll hear "thula ntwana", which means, "hush little child" ("prince" or "princess")....*

I received the following note about this song from Wynand Serfontein:

"When I was in school (in the 70's) I learned the English version (only one verse) below:

There's a burning star to lead your daddy home
He'll come from afar, no matter where you'll roam
Rest your angry heart, my baby, don't you cry
Soon you'll see him come across the bended sky.

Although this does not seem to be a good literal translation, it has rhythm and rime, and (as far as I can remember) fits the melody correctly. I am not sure if you have seen this version before. I cannot remember the Zulu parts, though. Only enough that this verse stuck with me for many years, since I think it is heartbreakingly beautiful and honest in the context of a child whose father works far from home.""
*The Zulu words for father and mother are "ubaba". The Zulu word for "child" is "ingane". In different versions of this Zulu lullaby a female child is called "little mama" and a male child is called "little father" ("little daddy", little man.)

Some African Americans and some people of other races or ethnicities also call their children "little mama" or "little man". For example, click for Part I of a three part pancocojams series about the song "Funky Y2C" (also known as "Hey Little Mama" (Why You Dance So Funky").

Example #2: Thula Baba - Singi Prisiri (Zulu traditionals)

Singiprisiri96 Uploaded on Sep 17, 2011

Singi Prisiri 96 sings Zulu traditionals

Example #3: THULA BABA - An Afrikan Lullaby by Soweto Gospel Choir

mBraunboeck3 Published on Mar 13, 2012
Here are the English translation and the Zulu lyrics of this song from that sound file's discussion thread:

In English
Kee[p] quiet, my child, keep quiet my baby,
Daddy will be home by dawn,
There's a star that will lead him home.
The star will brighten his way home
The hills and stones are still the same my love
My life has changed, yes my life has changed
The children grow but you don't know my love
The children grew but you don't see them grow

In Zulu
Thula thul, thula baba, thula sana,
Thul'u babuzo ficka, eku seni. (repeat)
Kukh'in khan-yezi, zi-holel' u baba,
Zim-khan yi-sela indlel'e ziyak-haya,
Sobe sik hona xa bonke be-shoyo,
Be-thi bu-yela u-bu-ye le khaya,
Thula thula thula baba,
Thula thula thula sana,
Thula thula thula baba,
Thula thula thula san.

Example #4: Vusi Mahlasela sings - Thula Mama

TrueAfricanKnowledge, Uploaded on May 31, 2011
Here are the lyrics for this version (from

Through the mist of tears in your eyes
On my childhood memory
I know the truth in your smile
I know the truth in your smile
Piercing through the gloom of my ignorance

There is mama lying down sleeping
Very ill and heart crying
Wondering wondering wondering
What is this world coming to.

Is it right
That such small children must feed for themselves

Is it right
Mothers struggling in this uncertain world

Is it right

Heaping trouble on an old lady’s head

Is it right?
I’m asking you dammit!!!

Thula mama thula mama
Thula mama thula mama
Tomorrow it’s gonna be better
Tomorrow it’s gonna be better
Na hi ronama
Na hi ronama
Thula don’t cry
Thula mama
Thula mama
Vusi Mahlasela's version of "Thula Mama" includes scatting.
Click for a transcript of a longer version of Vusi Mahlasela's performance of this song.That longer version is also found on YouTube.

Example #5: DEEP LEVEL - Thula Mama(Official Video)

Gaoza Gaoza, Uploaded on Nov 19, 2011
Deep Level's version includes rapping

Example #6: ΝΑΝΟΥΡΙΣΜΑ Thula Mtwana (a south African lullaby) - Ladysmith Black Mambazo

NTOREMIradio, Published on Aug 3, 2013
Here's a summary description of Ladysmith Black Mambazo's version of this song from another YouTube video Leib Ostrow, Nov 8, 2012
"This is a beautiful animated version of a south African song performed by the grammy winning group, Ladysmith Black Mambazo. The song is also the music for a Rice Krispies add in the United Kingdom. The animation was produced in Russia by Metronome films. The music was produced by Music for Little People in conjunction with a whole Ladysmith Black Mambazo recording for children called Gift of the Tortoise. All music is available from and ITunes”

Example #7: Umoja - Thula Sana

Evertone Siwela Uploaded on Apr 9, 2010

After touring over 26 countries, AFRICA UMOJA is returning to SA shores to continue on their journey. AFRICA UMOJA: The Spirit of Togetherness the tale of South Africa, its people and their song.

Travelling on the beats of drums, from the dusty streets of Soweto to all the corners of the worlds best and biggest stages, AFRICA UMOJA tells the moving tale of indigenous South African music - from the earliest rhythms to kwaito...
Despite its occasional moments of reflection and pathos, AFRICA UMOJA is a loud, colourful, and jubilant celebration of life that audiences whatever their cultural backgrounds have found infectiously delightful and uplifting. The 40-piece cast made up from a myriad of South African cultures has its own touching story to tell

Example #8: Drakensberg Boys Choir - Thula thula.wmv

treblechoir99, Uploaded on Nov 29, 2010

Lullaby from South african(Zulu)
Selected comments from this sound file's discussion thread.
[referring to the photograph that is shown with this sound file]
"This is a Zulu song then why is an Owambo with her baby in the picture?"
"@smehylton you are a great connoisseur. Forget the land, It's for the beauty from this photo, I know It's not from Zulu's people."

Engelhardt Unaeb
"It's not a oshiwambo woman by the way, it's a Himba woman, understand usage of photo..."

"Yes I know. I put this image for the mother and the child. Thank you for your precision, really appreciated."

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