Kaiso

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Kaiso
Stylistic origins Kongo traditional music, other West African music
Cultural origins West Africa, Kingdom of Congo
Derivative forms Calypso, Soca, Brukdown, Palm-wine
Fusion genres
Chutney • Chut-kai-pang • Rapso • Soca • Gospelypso • Cadence-lypso • Ska • spouge • Reggae
Music of Trinidad and Tobago
General topics
Related articles
Genres
Media and performance
Music media

Music television

Nationalistic and patriotic songs
National anthem Forged from the Love of Liberty
Regional music

Kaiso is a type of music popular in Trinidad, and other islands of the Caribbean, such as Grenada, Barbados, St. Lucia and Dominica, which originated in West Africa, and later evolved into calypso music.

Kaiso music has its origins in West Africa (particularly in present day Nigeria) and in the Kingdom of Kongo and was brought over by the slaves who (in the early history of the art form) used it to sing about their masters. The people would also gather in "kaiso" tents where a griot or lead singer would lead them in song. Many early kaisos were sung in French Creole by an individual called a chantwell. Kaiso songs are generally narrative in form and often have a cleverly concealed political subtext. Kaiso performers are known as Kaisonians.

In Barbados, kaiso refers to a form of stage-presented calypso, such as at the crop over festival.

Terminology[edit]

The term kaiso is said to derive from a Hausa word used as an exclamation of approval, such as "Bravo!" [1] The word is often used synonymously with calypso today, but often with the connotation that the former is more authentic, showing approval consistent with its original meaning.

History[edit]

The Hausa word "kai" does not mean bravo. It's commonly used to admonish or strongly express disapproval.

The Ibibio people and the origins of limbo and calypso. The enslaved Ibibios and, I suppose, other slaves would gather, plant two poles on opposite ends, and place a bar across. They’d take turn(individually) dancing and negotiating their bodies to go underneath the bar and exit on the opposite end without upsetting it, no matter how low the bar was. The accompanying chant used to egg on and lead the dancer to a successful exit went something like this: ‘kaiso, kaiso, kaiso—–.’ That means go forward, go ahead, more, etc. The dance was later named limbo. Ka means go. Iso means forward. Kaiso therefore, means go forward in the Ibibio language of Southeastern Nigeria. The Ibibios who were kidnapped from the Niger Delta, shipped across the vast Atlantic ocean, and subsequently enslaved in the caribbean islands of Trinidad and Tobago brought their music, language, and traditions with them. In slavery, their customs and traditions got interwoven into the larger slave culture of the area, but the word kaiso(go forward, go ahead or, more) survived. It later became the name of Trinidad and Tobago’s most popular music. Kaiso evolved into calypso and, that too, evolved into soca music.

Calypso music was developed in Trinidad in the 17th century from the West African Kaiso and canboulay music brought by African slaves imported to that Caribbean island to work on sugar plantations. These slaves, brought to toil on sugar plantations, were stripped of all connections to their homeland and family and not allowed to talk to each other. They used calypso to mock the slave masters and to communicate with each other. Many early calypsos were sung in French Creole by an individual called a griot.

The very fact that the word kaiso was common and accepted enough to be used for naming a dance or song suggests that the Ibibio slave population of that area was strong and socially influential.

References[edit]

In her book "Guinea´s other Suns", Maureen Lewis states, that Kaiso music has an Yoruba influence. Millington, J. (1999). “Barbados”, Garland Encyclopedia of World Music, Vol. 2. Routledge, pp. 813–821. ISBN 0-8153-1865-0.