Shauri Yako (It’s Your Problem)

A famous song from East Africa
with lovely images of Kenya where I lived for a few years.

Nilikwelezeyaka oh mama,   (I used to tell you oh my lady)
Fatou, wangu mama    (Fatou, my lady)
Nilikwelezeyaka oh mama, Fatou, wangu mama
Mapenzie ya kwetu eeh   (This love of ours)
haita tawi hata mama   (Will not survive much longer)
Mapenzie ya kwetu eeh, haita tawi hata mama
Tabia yako na yangu    (Your character and mine)
haisikilizani    (Are incompatible)
Tabia yako na yangu haisikilizani
Unaona (You need to understand)
unaona sasa we mama (You need to understand, my lady)
Unaona… unaona sasa we mama
* * * * * * * * * *
Unapenda kuvaa (You like to dress well)
Mimi sina namna oh Fatou we (I have no way to support that)
Unapenda kula vizuri (You like to dine well)
Mimi sina pesa oh Fatou we (I have no money, oh Fatou)
Nipe mali (Borrowing money)
Sizoe (I do not want to become a regular at this)
Niuwe mutu (Kill someone)
Nipate dawa ya feza (So that I can find a way to wealth)
Niuwe mutu / Watanifunga (They will surely lock me up)
Niuwe mutu thambi kwa Mungu Baba (That’s a sin against the Lord God)
Kama hunipendi we  (If you do not love me as I am, then)
Uende lote mama (Be completely gone, my lady)
Kama hunipendi we /  Uende lote mama
Shauri yako, shauri yako eeh (Its your problem)
Shauri yako, shauri yako eeh
Shauri yako, wende lote Zena wangu (Be completely gone, my lady)
Siwezi kuua mutu mama (I cannot kill a soul, my lady)
Thambi kwa Mungu Baba yo (That’s a sin against the Lord God)
Siwezi kuua mutu mama, thambi kwa Mungu Baba yo


(Wende lote Zena wangu!)
* * * * * * * * * * * *
Niibe mali (If I steal)
Watanifunga (They will surely lock me up)
Niuwe mutu (Kill someone)
Thambi kwa Mungu Baba (That’s a sin against the Lord God)
Kama hunipendi we, uende lote mama
Kama hunipendi we, uende lote mama
Niibe mali, watanifunga
Niuwe mutu
Thambi kwa Mungu Baba
Kama hunipendi we
Uende lote mama
Kama hunipendi we / Uende lote mama
Niibe mali / Watanifunga
Niuwe mutu /Thambi kwa Mungu Baba
Kama hunipendi we / Uende lote mama
Kama hunipendi we / Uende lote mama
* * * * * * * * * * *
Niibe mali ukitaka watanifunga mama
niue mutu thambi kwa Mungu Baba eh
Kama hunipendi bibi yangu
uende lote mama
Kama hunipendi uende lote mama
Niibe mali ukitaka watanifunga mama
niue mutu Thambi kwa Mungu eh
Kama hunipendi bibi yangu (If you do not love me, my wife)
uende kwenu mama (Go back to your family)
Kama hunipendi (If you do not love me)
uniwache yangu mama eeh (Leave me and mine)
Kama hunipendi Cherie Mama wende lote
Ohhh wende lote mama…
Oh, Zena wangu (My Zena)
Mtoto wa kwetu (Child of ours)
Composer: Nguashi Ntimbo

Congo Guitars

I present this poem with some  background:
I love East African guitar music because I lived there for 7 years when I was young, and although at first the music did not make an impression, I later found out about the masters of Congo Soukous: Tabu Ley, Franco & T.P.O.K. Jazz (I saw them live in NYC) and Pamelo Mounka among many others. I used to frequent the record-seller carts on River Road in Nairobi in the early 80’s and had a small collection of 45’s from that era including the epic Shauri Yako It was after my family no longer lived in E. Africa that I really began to love this sound. Once I took a bus into the Nostrand Ave section of Brooklyn to find more of this stuff at the African Records Center (it’s still there!). The proprietor of the store, upon hearing that I liked Tabu Ley Rochereau, recommended Pamelo Mounka’s album Ça ne se prête pas. I bought it and to this day I am glad I took his advice.


Congo Guitars

running fluid, flowing

like love, like life, like blood, like knowing

the living waters from the  throne of God;

it starts slow and it builds

equatorial storms, tropical sadness

as the guitars take you home

in reverberations of eternity

through endless repetitions of longing

through palm-branched alleys and red-dirt gullies

breeze caressing guavas and passion-fruit

past dictators’ mansions

past rusting shantytowns

over ditches running with sewage

into colors too intense to bear

colors to make you cry:

greens unseen in cold climates,

red earth, flowering jacarandas

women walking wrapped in rainbows

huge baskets on their heads

in the blare of traffic

in the madness of African cities

through the Congolese night that calls your name

and the smell of poor people’s food over cook fires

carried on the musical breeze

children smile and beggars crawl in the dust of the street

obscure wars are fought, false peace proclaimed

while the bones are exhumed

as the Congo jazz rolls on, flows on

like silver sorrow dancing gold in the heart of darkness

past liter bottles of beer sweating cold

on the bar table by the flower’s starkness

lighting up the midday—when those horns come in

on the boat from  Cuba, by way of Bruxelles and Paris

blaring triumphant and strong

like a shipment of diamonds and uranium

glittering in the drunken afternoon of a song with no end.

Biere Congolaise

IMAGE CREDIT: René Julie, from

From the Mountains of Congo


Sing to the Lord a new song,
And His praise from the ends of the earth,
You who go down to the sea, and all that is in it,
You coastlands and you inhabitants of them!
Let the wilderness and its cities lift up their voice,
The villages that Kedar inhabits.
Let the inhabitants of Sela sing,
Let them shout from the top of the mountains.
Let them give glory to the Lord,
And declare His praise in the coastlands.

Isaiah 42:10-12 [NKJV]

OK -I know.
Mbilia Bel is not REALLY singing those words from Isaiah
but that’s how I imagine it, since I don’t happen to understand Lingala.

I love the way the music and lyrics sound like they are emanating from another dimension.
I just found this site which has translations of Congolese music.
Et pour les Francophones, cliquez ici

I hope you like this song as much as I do.

After writing this I actually DID find some music praising Almighty God with Congo guitars. Hallelujah!

Congo Gospel

Papa Malcolm Punks it Up

Something about the chord changes in this song moves me, and it has been stuck in my subconscious since the mid 80’s.
The urinating goat is a rustic touch. The Kung-Fu film shots, the fancy footwork, the great guitar sound and the serious singing by the Queens cancel out the fact that Malcolm is making an ass of himself. I want to know what the lyrics are to this song from Duck Rock (1983). This is one of the craziest African grooves I know of. The guy with the shades reminds me of J.J. (“DY-no-MITE”) from Good Times. If I were to tell you more about why I love this song, you wouldn’t believe me…

The only words I can make out as sung by the Mahotella Queens (if it is indeed them) :

♪♫ ♫  “Oh no you can’t change the world  –
Sorry forever / then you get up and go…”
♪♪ ♫♪♫