Aie a Mwana

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"Aie a Mwana" is the best-known title of a song originally written by the French-Belgian writing and production team of Daniel Vangarde and Jean Kluger.

It was first recorded in 1971 under the title "Aieaoa" on the album Le Monde Fabuleux Des Yamasuki. In 1975, a version with predominantly Swahili lyrics by Black Blood, an African group recording in Belgium, was released as "A.I.E. (A Mwana)". In 1981, "Aie a Mwana" became the first single released by English girl group Bananarama. In 2010, with an identical melody but new lyrics and released as "Helele", it became an official song for the 2010 FIFA World Cup, in a version by Velile and Safri Duo.

Origins of the song and other early versions[edit]

The original song was called "Aieaoa", and was featured on the pseudo-Japanese dance album Le Monde Fabuleux Des Yamasuki, which was released in 1971 by the French writing and production team of Daniel Vangarde and Jean Kluger.[1]

In 1975, Belgian record producer Michel Jaspar - who had been born in what was then the Belgian Congo - was contacted by Zairean singer Steve Banda Kalenga, who had formed a band with friends from Angola. Jaspar renamed the band Black Blood, and, with fellow musician Ralph Benatar and with the encouragement of Kluger, produced the band's first single in Belgium. The A-side was "Marie Therese", written by Jaspar, and the B-side was a version of "Aieaoa" which Jaspar re-wrote with lyrics in Swahili, apart from the words "Aie a Mwana" themselves which are meaningless. It was the B-side, "A.I.E. (A Mwana)", which became successful, reaching #1 in Belgium and France, as well as being a hit in other parts of the world.[2]

After Bananarama's success in the UK with their version of the song, Vangarde and Kluger, who by then had found international success with the Gibson Brothers and Ottawan, also recorded versions of the same song with both Ottawan ("A.I.E. Is My Song", with English lyrics, 1982)[3] and La Compagnie Créole ("A.I.E A Moun'la", 1987).

Bananarama version[edit]

"Aie a Mwana"
Single by Bananarama
from the album Deep Sea Skiving
B-side Dubwana
Released 28 September 1981
Format 7" single
12" single
Recorded June 1981
Genre Pop, new wave
Length 3:33
Label Demon Records
Writer(s) Daniel Vangarde
Jean Kluger
Producer(s) Paul Cook
John Martin
Sara Dallin
Bananarama singles chronology
"Aie a Mwana"
(1981)
"It Ain't What You Do...."
(1982)

"Aie a Mwana" was the first single released by Bananarama. Group members originally recorded the track as a demo and ultimately it was the demo version that was pressed onto the record. Originally released as a stand-alone single, "Aie a Mwana" was eventually added to the group's debut album Deep Sea Skiving in a remixed and more polished version two years later.

Bananarama's previous experience in a recording studio was as background vocalists on the Department S b-side "Solid Gold Easy Action", a T. Rex cover. Prompted by friend and early supporter Paul Cook (of Sex Pistols), Bananarama decided to release their own single. As they had been including several cover versions in their repertoire (including later hit "Venus"), they decided on the song which had been recorded by Black Blood, sung in Swahili, which they had heard in a French disco.[1] Group members Sara Dallin, Siobhan Fahey and Keren Woodward had to learn to sing the song phonetically. The "tropical" nature of the single inspired the group's name: banana coming from the vibe of "Aie a Mwana" and -rama added to the end as a nod to an early Roxy Music song called "Pyjamarama".

The single was issued by the independent label Demon Records and failed to chart in the UK. Write-ups in the English music and fashion press (NME, The Face) caught the attention of Terry Hall, who invited Bananarama to sing on his new vocal group Fun Boy Three's next single.

Track Listings[edit]

7" single
  1. "Aie A Mwana" 3:33
  2. "Dubwana" 3:40
UK 12" single
  1. "Aie A Mwana" (12" Version) 5:39
  2. "Dubwana" – 3:40
US 12" single
  1. "Aie A Mwana" (US Extended Version) 7:54
  2. "Dubwana" – 3:40


All above tracks available on Deep Sea Skiving 2013 2CD/DVD re-issue Edsel Records EDSG 8029


Charts[edit]

Chart (1981) Peak
position
U.S. Hot Dance Club Play 66

Later recordings[edit]

A retranslated version was titled "La Revancha de Macumba" by Veronica Castro for her 1991 album Mi Pequena Soledad

"Helele" by Velile and Safri Duo[edit]

The song was re-recorded in 2010 by the South African singer Velile Mchunu and Danish percussion duo Safri Duo. It was released on 7 May 2010 as the lead single from Safri Duo's forthcoming Greatest Hits album.[4] The song is the official trailer song for the 2010 FIFA World Cup broadcast on German television channel RTL and Switzerland's Schweizer Fernsehen and Télévision Suisse Romande in June–July.[5][6] "Helele" peaked at number one in Switzerland, at number three in Germany and at number twenty-two in Austria.

References[edit]

External links[edit]