Traditional Mamprusi Hunting Songs

Zɔkri of Nalerigu, Ghana is a soothsayer but also plays a two-stringed banjo and flute that his late father passed down to him. The guitar is made of goat skin over a gourd with the strings being rubber strips. We visited him on July 17, 2017 with musicologist Sarai Brinker and our language teacher Philip Jangdow. He performed several folks songs for us and we recorded him. Then we went through the recordings with Philip and translated them.

It was fascinating to see the layers of complexity packed into their seemingly short and simple songs. So much context is needed to understand the meaning of the songs as is a familiarity with local proverbs. It was great to have Philip guide us through the lyrics so that we could document these songs for others to hear and understand.

My Heart is Happy

Mampruli

Di bɛ sa’azugu ka bɛ tiŋŋa
Kumnila wunni
Di bɛ sa’azugu ka bɛ tiŋŋa [response]

Di bɛ tiŋŋa ni ka bɛ sa’a
Kumnila wunni
Di bɛ sa’azugu ka bɛ tiŋŋa

N sufu maaiya, n sufu maaiya,
Wa n-kpalim

N pu maaiya, n pu maaiya,
Wa n-kpalim [2x]

N sufu maaiya, gɔsima, n sufu maaiya,
Wa n-kpalim

N sufu maaiya, Ma mi n sufu maaiya,
Wa n-kpalim

N-dɔ’ai bii ka u niŋni nŋɔ
ŋɔn dɔ’ai ŋɔn laama

I di pɔ’a ka u deaai i yuubu
ŋɔn dɔ’ai ŋɔn laama

I kuli doo ka u deaai i yuubu
ŋɔn dɔ’ai ŋɔn laama 2x

ŋɔn dɔ’ai ŋɔn laama [response] Ka u niŋi I yuubu
ŋɔn dɔ’ai ŋɔn laama

U dɔ’ai bii ka u deaai u yuubu
ŋɔn dɔ’ai ŋɔn laama

English

It’s in the sky and in the earth
Crying to the gods
It’s in the sky and in the earth

It’s in the earth and in the sky
Crying to the gods
It’s in the earth and in the sky

My heart is happy, my heart is happy
Dancing remains

My belly is happy, my belly is happy
Dancing remains

I’m happy! Look! I’m happy!
Dancing remains

I’m happy! I know I’m happy!
Dancing remains

I have a child and he does this
She who birthed him should smile

You married a woman who obeys your will
She who birthed her should smile

You married a man who obeys your will
She who birthed him should smile

She who birthed him should smile
And he obeys your will
She who birthed him should smile

She births a child and he obeys her will
She who birthed her should smile

My Father's Footsteps


Mampruli

N ba nɔba ka n dɔla,
Nɔbkura ka n dɔla

N ba nɔba ka n dɔla,
U nyɛ la Yilaan nira ka n dɔla
Nɔbkura ka n dɔla

N ba nɔba ka n dɔla,
U nyɛ la Zaadaari nira ka n dɔla
Nɔbkura ka n dɔla

N ba nɔba ka n dɔla,
U nyɛ la yoo ni nira ka n dɔla

N ba nɔba ka n dɔla,
U nyɛ la yani nira? Ka n dɔla

Nɔbkura ka n dɔla, nɔbkura. [response 5x]

N ba nɔba ka n dɔla,
Kunduŋŋu za’a yuuri dima

N ba nɔba ka n dɔla,
??? [di tɔ] ???

Kambonbiisi, ba nɔba ka n dɔla,

Nɔbkura ka n dɔla,
Nɔbkura ka n dɔla,

N ba nɔba ka n dɔla,
Saa daari boori niriba ka n dɔla

English

I’m following in my father’s footsteps
I’m following old footprints [response]

I’m following in my father’s footsteps
He’s from Yilaana and I’m following
I’m following old footprints

I’m following in my father’s footsteps
He’s a Judgement Day person* and I’m following
I’m following old footprints

I’m following in my father’s footsteps
He is a wilderness man and I’m following

I’m following in my father’s footsteps
Where is from that I’m following?

I’m following old footprints, I’m following. 5x

I’m following in my father’s footsteps
Hyena refuses naming

I’m following in my father’s footsteps
???[unclear]???

Warriors’ children, father’s footsteps that I’m following

I’m following old footprints,
I’m following old footprints,

I’m following in my father’s footsteps
Rainy day wants people and I’m following

* aka, he’s dead

Our Spirits

Mampruli

Ti wunni, ti wunni,
ka za’a wuna n-diri pɔ’aba

Ti wunni, ti wun, ti wunni,
ka za’a wuna n-boori ligri

Ti wunni, ti wun, ti wunni,
ka za’a wuna n-diri naam

Ti wunni, ti wun, ti wunni,
ka za’a wuna n-dɔ’ai biisi

Ti wunni, ti wun, ti wunni,
ka za’a wuna n-diri kpaya

English

Our spirits, our spirits,
we reject the spirits and go marry women

Our spirits, our spirits,
we reject the spirits and search for money

Our spirits, our spirits,
we reject the spirits and search for chieftaincy

Our spirits, our spirits,
we reject the spirits and birth children

Our spirits, our spirits,
we reject the spirits and eat malt *

* to “eat malt” is an expression meaning to drink beer

Two Hunting Songs

This is two hunting songs with the same tune.

Mampruli

Bɔ, n-bɔ n bu nya n-ku
N niŋi wula ka di maai ma?

Bɔ, n-bɔ n bu nya n-kuli
N niŋi wula ka di mara?

Bɔ, n-bɔ n bu zi n-kuli
N niŋi wula ka di maai ma?

English

Search and search and didn’t find to kill,
What’ll I do to be happy?

Search and search and didn’t find to come home,
What’ll I do to be happier?

Search and search and didn’t carry to come home,
What’ll I do to be happy?

Song #2

M ba nyɛ la Yoonaaba, yee
ka niŋi yoo bumbilla

N-dɔli ba…

Kyɛ ka n-dɔli ba n-baŋŋi yoo
Ya kur kyɛ ka n-dɔli ba n-baŋŋi yoo

N-dɔli ba, Yilaana nira,
n-dɔli ba n-baŋŋi yoo

N-dɔli ba, yanliri nira,
n-dɔli ba n-baŋŋi yoo

Song #2

My father is the chief of the wildness, ooo
and I become the wildness child

I follow them…

Allow me to follow them and know the wilderness
Ya’ll just allow me to follow them & know the bush

Follow them, Yilaana people*
and follow them & know the bush

Follow them, yanliri people**
and follow them & know the bush

* Yilaana is a village
** yanliri are those with magical vanishing powers

Footsteps Don't See Feet

Mampruli

Ka nɔpongu bu nya nɔ[ba],
Tingbana wuri ma ni

English

Footsteps don’t have [çsee] feet,
Earth spirits love me.

Mɔkyeeriba or The Chief’s Horse Grass Cutters

Mɔkyeeriba means “grass cutters” in Mampruli and is a slang term for young men who are eligible for chieftaincy. The label comes from the fact that chiefs used to send their young sons and grandsons out every day to cut grass for their horses.

Very few chiefs own horses these days, but the paramount chief who lives in Nalerigu has two. His grandkids sometimes come around my house to cut grass for his horses. Sometimes even KJ gets in on the action!

Happy 2nd Birthday, KJ!

William was away on KJ’s actual birthday so we celebrated when he returned two weeks later. We invited several of her and Trey’s Ghanaians friends over for some play time and cake.

Our friend Baby made a delicious chocolate & vanilla layer cake. The trampoline and new slide on the treehouse were a big hit with the kids.

 

Dust Devil!

Worship at Zambulugu Baptist Church

Zambulugu is a village about 3 miles east of us. The church congregation is always predominantly women and children and they love to sing. They’ll spend more than half the service in song and dance!

How Rival Mamprusi Wives Settle Disputes