lullaby

Sweet Lullaby

Sweet Lullaby

What could be better than being gently read to sleep? Being gently sung to sleep, of course.

Before I had a child with whom to share lullabies, I fell in love with Deep Forest’s “Sweet Lullaby”, which was originally released in 1992 as a single and then in re-mixed versions in 1994.

Despite the widespread belief, bolstered by the video, that ‘Sweet Lullaby” was based on a traditional African song, Deep Forest, a French world music/ethnic electronica group based the song on a traditional Baegu lullaby. The song, called “Rorogwela”,comes from Malaita Island of the Solomon Islands and uses a vocal sample originally recorded by ethnomusicologist Hugo Zemp in 1970 and later released by UNESCO as part of their Musical Sources collection.

The lyrics refer to a young child being comforted by his older brother or sister despite the loss of one or both of their parents.

Sasi sasi o to aro aro
O angi si nau boroi amu
Ni ma oe e fasi korona
Dolali dasa na, lao dai afuimae
Afuta guau mauri, Afuta wela inomae
Sasi sasi ae o angisi nau
Boroi nima oe e fasi koro na
Dolali dasa na, lao dai afuimae
Afuta guau mauri, Afuta wela inomae

ENGLISH INTERPRETATION
Young brother, young brother you be quiet
Although you are crying to me
Your father has left us
He has gone to the place of the dead
Protect the head of the living, Protect the orphan child
Young brother, young brother hey? Although you are crying to me
Your father has left us
He has gone to the place of the dead
Protect the head of the living, protect the orphan child.

Lullaby

I never looked for the translation before tonight; I just loved the melody. Now that I know the meaning of the words, I can’t say I find them particularly comforting.

Perhaps something was lost in translation, or maybe my Americanized idea of comfort differs from that of the Baegu.  Perhaps the Baegu find comfort in having an older person give them a dose of reality with a tender melody?  No matter, I still love this song.

At the core of the melody is the poignant voice of Afunakwa who comes from the island of Malaita (region: Fataleka) in the Solomon Islands. It was her singing that was recorded in 1969 by ethnomusicologist Hugo Zemp in an effort to archive the traditions of the Baegu fading culture.

lullaby

When my son was born I was happy to share it with him; although he preferred Guinean & English lullabies as a small child, “Sweet Lullaby” was also one of his favorites.

Do you have a favorite lullaby?

~Maura Alia Badji

Sources: Wikipedia, YouTube, lyrictranslate.com, whosampled.com

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