Friday, September 10, 2021

South African Children Singing "Basithathela Abazali Bethu" (also known as "Ungumbulali Wena") "They Killed Our Parents"

Francisco Assis Silva, Nov 24, 2014

After the Atlantic Point Hostel team have finished the food garden in khayelitsha for the Community Day, the Kids gave us this gift.... -.

**** Ungumbulali wenaπŸ˜­πŸ‘‘♥️

Nosi Magubeni, Dec. 26, 2019

Ungumbulali wena by Crewe Primary School girls.😭♥️😍 

Edited by Azizi Powell
This pancocojams post provides information about the song "
Basithathela Abazali Bethu" (title corrected by commenters in that 2014 video's discussion thread and elsewhere.) That song is also known as "Ungumbulali Wena".

Two videos of that song sung by groups of South African children are showcased in this pancocojams post. Partial lyrics for this song and other comments about this song from the discussion thread for the video given as #1 in this post are also included in this post. The Addendum to this post presents information about where the children featured in this showcased videos live/d. The content of this post is presented for cultural, historical, and aesthetic purposes.

All copyrights remain with their owners.

Thanks to the [unknown?) composer/s of this song. Thanks to the children who are featured in these videos and thanks to all those who are associated with these videos. Thanks also to all those who are quoted in this post and thanks to 
Francisco Assis Silva and to Nosi Magubeni, the publishers of these two showcased videos on YouTube. 
There are a number of YouTube videos and sound files of this song. These videos can be found by typing those song titles in YouTube's search engine.

[Disclaimer: I'm an African American who knows no other language but English. Additions and corrections are very welcome about this song specifically and gwijos in general.]

"Basithathela Abazali Bethu" (also known as "Ungumbulali Wena") is a South African (Xhosa language) song that was popularized by a 2014 YouTube video published by 
Francisco Assis Silva. That video features children from a community organization in the Kuyasa neighborhood in Khayelitsha, a township in Cape Town, South Africa.

That video shows four girls and four boys ranging from primary school ages to teenagers giving a rendition of "Basithathela Abazali Bethus while seated in a room of a poor home. A woman is also seated in the room and watches them perform. The song has a slow tempo. One girl and one boy play the djembe in accompaniment of the others' singing.
Since that video, there have been a lot of other South African videos of this song, including the 2019 video of primary school children singing this song (given as Video #2 in this post.
That video shows three primary school age girls in school uniform singing the lead to that song on a stage in front of a choir of girls of the same age who are also wearing the school uniforms. That rendition is the same tempo as that in video #1. However, there's no musical accompaniment and, like video #1's rendition, there is no hand clapping or foot stomping. Click for a brief example of this song sung in the same tempo by uniform wearing teenagers probably at a high school sports event. The titles for this song come from the song's first two lines "Ungumbulali wena, basithathela abazali bethu".

I've watched a number of other YouTube videos of gwijos. Slower tempo gwijos appear to be sung without hand claps or foot stomps, but often with swaying back and forth or side to side. In contrast, more uptempo gwijos appear to be performed with individual hand claps and sometimes also with foot stomps and/or strutting like movements. Click for an example of an uptempo gwijo entitled "Fire". That song is accompanied by a indvidual handclaps.
Unfortunately, as of this date, I haven't found any complete lyrics for this song. However, some Xhosa words and some English translations are found in comments in the discussion threads for this song, and particularly in the discussion thread for the 2014 video that is embedded in this pancocojams post. Read the "Partial Lyrics" section below..
I believe that "Basithathela Abazali Bethu" (also known as "Ungumbulali Wena") was originally an apartheid struggle song (a protest song/song of resistance during and against apartheid). Click for information about and some examples of South African struggle songs. That article doesn't include "Basithathela Abazali Bethu".
Here's a summary from a sound file of this song:

Ungumbulali Wena (Gwijo)

blaqkeys, Aug 10, 2020

Ungumbulali Wena (A Murderer You Are) is a lament to the pain, injustices and oppression caused by the Apartheid Era to blacks and other ethnic groups in South Africa.

The 2014 video refers to that song as "Amagwijo". "Igwijo" (gwijo) is the Xhosa singular term for "song" and "amagwijo" is the Xhosa plural term for "songs". 

Due to English language influence, the word "gwijos" is most often used online to refer to both the singular and the plural form of these types of songs
 even though those terms are incorrect in Xhosa language.

Gwijos are call and response songs. Most gwijos are performed without any musical instrument accompaniment (a capella). However, some YouTube videos of gwijos show one or more people play djembes (a very popular West African originated drum).  The 2014 showcase video of children singing "Basithathela Abazali Bethu"" includes a boy and a girl playing djembes.

Also, a June 2021 YouTube video of a gwijo entitled "
Beyonce ukhalelane Gwijo song❤"πŸ‡ΏπŸ‡¦ shows men singing while one man beating on a table like a drum and one man beating on what appears to me to be a gourd.

South African apartheid struggles songs are one source for gwijos. Traditional Xhosa wedding songs, and contemporary amapiano songs are among other sources for gwijos.  

Since at least 2019 [?], "Basithathela Abazali Bethu" ("Ungumbulali Wena") has been adopted for use in a South African campaign against violence against women. Here's the summary of one sound file

"Basithathela abazali bethu "

SIVE MAGAGULA, Sep 11, 2019

KHANYISANI peer educators encourage the nation to stand and fight against WOMEN ABUSE through singing
Here's a comment exchange from that sound file's discussion thread:

Laura L, 2020
"So emotional. What does this song mean? Much love."

Ialways win, 2020
"Basithathela abazali bethu" means they took our parents. The song is about children that are left to be motherless / fatherless because of murder. In particular femicide , which is a big problem in South Africa :("

The 2014 video that is showcased in this pancocojams post is sampled as background to the song "Ababulali" by South African rapper Nasty C in his 2020 album "Zulu Man With Some Power". "Ababulali" is a Xhosa word that means "killers". However, Nasty C's song Ababulali" is a tribute to his father.

Here's a excerpt from a 2020 interview with Nasty C about his sample of that 2014 video in the background of his song "Ababulali": Nasty C, The Coolest kid In Africa

Sep 2 [2020*] no author cited; retrieved Sept 10, 2021
..."Ababulali means murderers or killers and I took that from the choir voices that I sampled in the background and really just kids I saw singing on YouTube in their living room. The message that they had on that song is that they take our parents from us—they take us from our parents. They are murderers. When you are speaking it out it doesn’t sound that interesting but when I heard that it moved me. That’s powerful and I decided to make that song about my father."...


(Numbers added for referencing purposes only.)

1. Nathan Zane, 2017
"Bacula kamnandi ukufa abantwana they are gifted, but I don't think it is appropriate for orphan homes to teach our kids such songs, Yes they have been through hell, they lost their parents at a young age,so did I, reason am saying they should not teach our kids such is because that "Ungumbulali wena, wasithathela abazali bethu" creates hatred and we blacks one thing about us, ndiyazela apha kum, sinesixhiba, we love revenge, instead of making kids feel miserable and sad about loosing their parents, make them see the true value of life, let them understand that everything happens for a reason, make them understand that loosing your parents its not the end of the world and should be the reason why you become a better person, I personally believe that this song is not right for kids at this age, let them sing about god, Yes the person that took their parents life ngumbulali, but leyo indaba ayoyeyabo' I wish them all of the best with their future, they should remember that everything is possible with god, I also lost my parents, my mom at the age of 2, my father at the age of 3, but through Christ am happy and living my life like its golden, I don't have much but everyday am grateful. Y'all should have a blessed and prosperous year <3

** Reply 2. Angel Sentebale Ngaka, 2018 "They are not from orphanage home its cultural group called future line from Kuyasa in khayelitsha." ** 3. Empress P, 2017
"This song should be used in these campaigns to stop women murders..... nithatha abazali of innocent children think of that"

** Reply 4. Athijohntony Ngwexana, 2020 "It also speaks to the colonizer, and the impact that they have had in our continent."

** 5. Nosipho Ayanda Ngidi, 2017 "There's so much more message sent by this video, listening to the lyrics, looking at situation of the house that they are in, looking also at these young kids, it all makes sense! STOP IT WITH THE EMOTIONAL ABUSE TO THE KIDS!!!!, I one day pray that they prosper and become exactly what God has destined them to be... God bless you kids & your mother!!! We love you so much!!
** 6. Bambanani Nguqu, 2017 "Wow great and powerful voices, you don't even need to understand the lyrics to feel their pain. This women is really doing a great job. This video really needs some exposure it was posted in 2014 and only a few people have seen it. Thanks Francisco Assis Silva for posting the video

** 7. A Agather, 2017 "I'm feeling this in the past , present and future

Azania listen to your kids😒😒😒"

** 8. Lwanda Thomas, 2017 "Oh wow Khayelitsha kidz are talented, I just so wish there opportunities to keep kidz off the streets like these, government building theaters in the townships..."

** 9. Lucinda maseko, 2018 "the way I love this kids singing, I keep on repeating the song but it still touches me the same way it did the first time. if I had power I would secure their future financially and be the pillar." ** 10. Xoliswa Gumede, 2018 "Such a sad song 😒😒but it bless me somehow, give me strength, hope and ambitions for my tomorrow .... thank u guys"

** 11. Denzel Gariseb, 2018 "But this is talking about apartheid. It says "you're a killer, you're a killer, indeed they are killers. You took our parents, you took our nation. Who was it? They are killers, these are murderers." There is a grave messege behind those sweet voices.

** 12. Mbalie Motsoene, 2018 "Who knows what they call themselves. I need more of them😭😭"

** Reply 13. Angel Sentebale Ngaka, 2018 "They are called future line"

** 14. Simphiwe Mkhwanazi, 2018 "i feel your pain they took my parents away  too very sad and painful too" ** 15. Nosicelo Liwani, 2019 "The song they sing it says u are a killer  why u kill us u kill our  mother u kill  our nation then who are  this song

it's base to those  who were murdered" ** 16. Nomfundo Zwane, 2020 "RIP to all women who died due to Gender-Based Violence incidences. 🌷#BasithathelaAbazali #BasithathelaIsizweSethu

#UngumbulaliWena" ** SilentSun, 2020 "Wow,I don't understand the words but these beautiful children have such amazing voices.Made me tear up. Love from KenyaπŸ‡°πŸ‡ͺπŸ‡°πŸ‡ͺπŸ‡°πŸ‡ͺπŸ‡°πŸ‡ͺ"

** Reply Mpho-Entle Mohlala, 2021 "It says, 'you're a killer, you took our parents away from us, you took our nation away us' and then I don't know the rest"

** 17. Lilitha Tyhulu Nkosi, 2021 "Iam still here in 2021 😍, this song should be played in national for those who abuse us and kill us and leave our loved ones heartbroken πŸ’”
ADDENDUM #1: INFORMATION ABOUT THE CHILDREN FEATURED IN THESE VIDEOS Video #1 The title for this video indicates that these children come from Khayelitsha. Here's information about Khayelitsha from

"Khayelitsha... is a township in Western Cape, South Africa, on the Cape Flats in the City of Cape Town. The name is Xhosa for New Home.[2] It is reputed to be the largest[3] and fastest-growing township in South Africa.



Khayelitsha has been split into about 22 areas, depending on how one divides them. It is made up of Makhaza, Kuyasa, Harare, Makhaya, Town Two, Ilitha Park, Site B (consisting of the newer K-Z sections) and Site C.[citation needed] Khayelitsha is made up of old formal areas and new informal/formal areas. The old formal areas were built originally by the apartheid government and are known as A-J sections also called 'Khayelitsha' proper...[The newer sections] are mostly made up of bank bond housing[clarification needed] and are home to middle-class / upper working class populations"...
Several commenters in this video's discussion thread indicated that these children came from Kuyasa.

**** Video #2 Crewe Primary School is located in East London, South Africa, Here's information about East London from,_Eastern_Cape "East London (Xhosa: eMonti; Afrikaans: Oos-Londen) is a city on the southeast coast of South Africa[3] in the Buffalo City Metropolitan Municipality of the Eastern Cape province. The city lies on the Indian Ocean coast, largely between the Buffalo River and the Nahoon River, and hosts the country's only river port."...

**** Thanks for visiting pancocojams. Visitor comments are welcome.

No comments:

Post a Comment