Sunday, April 28, 2019

Three YouTube Videos Of Funga Alafia Songs & Dances

Edited by Azizi Powell

This is Part II of a three part pancocojams series on the song "Funga Alafia".

This pancocojams post showcases three video examples of Funga Alafia songs and/or dances.

Selected comments from one of these videos' discussion threads are also included in this post.

Click for Part I of this pancocojams series. Part I corrects widely found misinformation about the provenance (origin/source) of the song "Funga Alafia".

Click for Part III of this pancocojams series. Part III showcases two YouTube videos of Nigerian master drummer Babatunde Olatunji performing "Fanga".

Selected comments from these videos' discussion threads 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 Larocque Bey, the composer of the song "Funga Alafia". Thanks to all those who quoted in this post and all those who are featured in these videos. Thanks also to the publishers of these videos on YouTube.
An earlier version of this pancocojams series was published in 2011. Click for that post. That post showcases other YouTube examples of Funga Alafia other than those that are found in this post. Links to Part I and Part II are found on that page. Part I provides information about the history of the song "Funga Alafia" and Part II provides some lyric examples of that song.

These videos are presented in chronological order, based on their publishing date with the oldest videos presented first.

Video #1: Nana Malaya - "Funga Alafia"

The Kennedy Center, Published on Oct 9, 2013

The Millennium Stage partners with the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority to present some of the best D.C. area street performers in a MetroPerforms! Showcase.
Here's a comment that I posted to that video's discussion thread in 2016:
"Alafia, Nana Malaya!

I'm glad that I happened upon this video of your and your drummers' performance of "Funga Alafia".

I'm proud to know you.

Here's some information about this multifaceted dancer, choreographer, speaker, teacher, and entrepreneur:

Nana Malaya is originally from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. One of her children is movie and television actor Lamman Rucker.

The poem "I Am the Original Dance Machine" (3:20 in this video) was written by New York City dancer/choreographer Bob Johnson, who also lived in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania and in 1969/1970 was the founder of the Pittsburgh Black Theater Dance Ensemble. Nana Malaya was a member of this esteemed dance company.

Ase, Nana Malaya!"
Here are some additional comments from this YouTube video's discussion thread
1. Jimi Cyber, 2015
"Pearl Primus, (1919-1994),the anthropologist and choreographer of African dance introduced Funga to the USA. "Movements and gestures are a language as Ms. Primus spoke the dance story." Quote from Dr. DeAma Battle of Art of Black Dance and Music."

2.Malaya Rucker-Oparabea, 2017

3. Susan Kennedy, 2018
"Jimi and Malaya,I have always had great respect for Ms. Primus. Not many know about her, more people know about Ms. Dunham. I got burned out about this song in the elementary music teaching circles, but remembering that Ms. Primus introduced Funga to the US brings back its relevance for me. Thank you!"

4. Mattdog2020, 2017
"We had a huge group of African people come and do this at my school 20 years ago."

5. Bluegirl12865 MSP, 2019
"is it sad that I think I’m the only that had to sing this recently when I’m in 6th grade because all the comments I see are about those peoples singing it in elementary? :/
There's a lot of comments on this discussion thread and on other discussion threads for YouTube videos of "Funga Alafia" about children learning and singing this song in school. Presumably, most of these comments are from the United States. However, one commenter (on another YouTube discussion thread) wrote that his school sung this song in Norway.

I think this is one of a very small number of "African" songs that are taught in United States schools- which is kinda ironic since this song isn't from Africa.

Video #2: Funga Alafia

Roxanne Smith, Published on Sep 5, 2014

5th Graders performing Funga Alafia a welcoming song.

Video #3: Funga Alafia - West African Song- Kipp Academy DC

Callaloo TV, Published on Jul 28, 2017

The Callaloo Team leads a cultural music workshop at Kipp Academy, DC Benning Road, SE Washington, DC

This concludes Part II of this two part pancocojams series.

Thanks for visiting pancocojams.

Videos comments are welcome.


  1. I first wrote about the song "Funga Alafia" in 2011.

    I decided to revisit this subject because of the apparent widespread inclusion of "Funga Alafia" in United States and other non-West African nations and also because of the widespread misinformation about the provenance of that song.

    Even if people prefer later arrangements of a particular song, I believe it's important to document and share that song's provenance (origin/source).

    If possible, it's important to know who composed the song - if not the actual composer/s than which population it came from. It's also important to know what the original words were, which tune and tempo was originally used and what performance activities, if any, where used while singing or chanting the composition.

    Knowing where the song came from can help determine the overall meaning of the song itself as well as the meanings of specific words/phrases (including slang and colloquial expressions).

    Knowing the provenance of a song can also help instill and reinforce group self-esteem and personal esteem in people from that particular population.

  2. Thank you for sharing!! I plan on teaching this to my kiddos.

    1. You're welcome William Tillman, Jr.

      I hope your children enjoy dancing to this song and drumming.

      Best wishes!

  3. Hey Ms. Azizi, Thank you for the lesson.