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Subject: Belgian Congo song
(30 oktober 2011)


Hello:

I am looking for some help to find a song that I heard from a record as a young child. My father (Dutch) told me that it was a nonsense song - with very little meaning. It was the easiest song for me to learn and has stayed in my head till now. Wow, now I am almost 50. I can only explain it as I heard it phonetically. I would love to find a translation of the song or perhaps an mp3 of someone singing it.

It sounds like:
Hi delewi da la wootshava samoa samoa (repeat)
Keek a dack oh deek kelsai kiawo kiawo congo way
O Nicodemo, O Nicodemo, O Nicodemo kilachewai
Congo Congo Congo (several times)
(at the end) Hoi

If would greatly appreciate any information you might have about this song. I am so sorry for the silly way I may have written it - I certainly don't mean any disrespect for the language or the culture, just enjoying learning more of my history.

Joyce (Canada).





Answer     (31 oktober 2011)


Dear Joyce,

I don't know this song, but I could find it for you in the Dutch Song Database:
http://www.liederenbank.nl/index.php?lan=en
Typ in the search field: samoa
Now you find 4 results: nr. 2 and 3 are the song you are looking for, I believe (with variants in the text).

First source: Songbook Tiggers (1938)
First line: Heiwaddoewei, waddoewoetsjambo, / Samoa, Samoa
In this songbook you can find musical notation (no mp3 available).

Second source: Songbook Kohnstamm (1951)
First line: Hei-wat doe-wei, wat-doe-woet-sjam-bo, samoa, samoa, / tsjing-da-ra-ko-deh, dell-tji dar-ra-kar-re, dar-ra-kar-re, kon-go-kwai
In this songbook you also can find musical notation (no mp3 available).

The Dutch Song Database is part of a Scientific Research Center (Dutch culture and language) in Amsterdam. The online database gives only the first lines. You can send them an e-mail and ask for the complete text or maybe a scan of the songbooks.

The language of the song is not Dutch. The first source calls it: "Lied der Kongo-Negers", "Song of the native people (black people) of Kongo" (I believe the state of Congo lies in the center of Africa). Maybe it is originally a song in their language, or maybe in fictive words that sound like the Congolese languange. The Netherlands did not have a connection with Congo, but the country has been a Belgian colony (1908-1960), so maybe the song was more well known in Belgium (where they also speak Dutch). The only word I recognize as a Dutch word, is the last word: "hoi". It means something like "hooray" (a yell of hapiness).

The song is not well known in the Netherlands. Only two results in de Dutch Song Database is very little. Also I could not find this on Google or on YouTube.

If you have any more questions, let me know. I realise that the text in the two sources I give you, differ from your phonetically text. Most folk songs and children's songs know many variations (in lyrics and music). Maybe with such unknown African words, the variations will be even bigger.
If you want to search further, I can give you the link to a forum about searching lyrics where you can leave a message.

Let me know if this was the song you were searching for. I know it can mean a lot to find back old songs you learned in your childhood.

With kind regards, met vriendelijke groeten,

Rozemarijn

Dutch children's songs with music and English translation (www.dutchsongs.overtuin.net)





Re:     (22 december 2012)


Dear friend,

I saw your lovely site about Dutch children songs by chance. Joyce from Canada asked about a nonsense song she had learnt from a record and you answered that the language was not Dutch. I daresay you are right. My twin brother and I have been looking for the original version of a similar song and have during our research found a number of variations and I think the one Joyce asked about is one of them.

The original seems to come from the German student tradition of the 19th century where the mixing of German and Latin in songs did appear. This was not understandable for most people and the words therefor changed a lot when the songs where sung outside the student environment. Sad to say there is no mp3 or musical notation easily available but I guess the tune goes something like the International Scout Song "Ging Gang Goolie". However, our items (from all over the world!) have a similar tune and some significant words.

Mr Nicodemo (Nick O'Deemo, nickonamo, akkademie, Nicodemus,...) seems to be very hard to extinct but in some countries he is replaced by "illa", "hayla", "aila" or something else. Then the "sound" "wootshava" in Joyce's song correspond to "vassian", "watcha", "vassa", "vasch nek" ... in other "languages". If you ask the singers about the origin of the song, they will answer you UK, Finland, Sweden, Germany, India, South Africa, French Guyana, Greece, ...

We (my twin brother and I) think that Joyce's song is a relative of the Great Family including other nonsense songs like "Ging Gang Goolie", "Kinkan kolli kolli", "Em Pom Pi", "Qui quam quade", "Oh, Nicodemo", "I Politi Politaska", "Wumba-lied", "Umpa" and so on.

My two favorite songs of the "family" are "The niggers morning-song" (1905) and "Red Indian Folk Song" (1949). (Unfortunately the last one is cut off but I guess there should be something like "... amo amo amo" due to other "Nicodemo" songs).

Any comments?

Ingemar.




Axel Engdahl (1905)




Teknis Sångbok (1949)





Re:     (23 december 2012)


Dear Ingemar,

thank you for your addition to my message in my guestbook.

I see you did a lot of research. It is very usual for traditional folk songs (wich spread orally) that different versions in text and melody will come to exist (often over borders). Most of the times it is very difficult to be sure where and when the song did originate. It's great you found a whole family of these songs. I will add your message to my guestbook.

Thank you again and my compliments for your 'detective work'!

With kind regards,

Rozemarijn

Dutch children's songs with music and English translation (www.dutchsongs.overtuin.net)








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