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African Lullabies

Author John Cech
Air Date 2/15/2000

African Lullaby Transcript

In the liner notes for her remarkable new CD, African Lullaby, producer Shana Dressler refers this ancient musical form as “love songs for children.” And of course she is right — there is something that calls to the heart of the child from the heart of the singing adult in these lovely, haunting songs — many of which seem as old as time itself.

Mor Dior Bamba, a renowned singer from Senegal, guides us close to the pure, traditional source of the lullabye and its power to soothe the child with sounds and rhythms, in a lullabye that his mother sang to him:

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Others are wistful, playful. This Ugandan lullabye sung by Samite tells about all the good things that are waiting for the child “in the sleep world” — oranges, passion fruits, sweet water, and wonderful games:

Brief sound clip

In “Diyoré,” Abou Sylla from Guinea, sings about not being able to get a child to stop crying — it’s a song that’s meant to lift a care-giver’s spirits as much as it is to amuse a restless child:

Brief sound clip

“Mayo Mpapa,” which translates from the Icibemba language of Zambia as “Mother Carry Me, ” is about deep cultural values; in it the child asks to be carried by her mother, and in return the child promises one day to care for her. Here’s the award-winning singer Muriel Mwamba:

Brief sound clip

These songs are valentines for every child, to rock with, in the cradle of civilization’s soul.

Posted in Music