Malaika

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Malaika is a Swahili song written by Tanzanian musician Adam Salim in 1945. This song is possibly the most famous of all Swahili love songs in Tanzania, Kenya and the entire East Africa, as well as being one of the most widely known of all Swahili songs in the world. Malaika in this context means "angel" in Swahili, and this word has always been used by the Swahili speakers to refer to a beautiful girl.

The lyrics of the song differ slightly from version to version; the title itself is subject to variation, such as "Ewe Malaika" (Oh, Angel) or "My Angel".[1]

Authorship and covers[edit]

Authorship of this popular song is still very controversial. However, most people accredit its authorship to Adam Salim, a not-well-published Tanzanian songwriter. Salim (born in 1916) composed this song while he was living in Nairobi between 1945–46.[2] According to this story, Adam Salim composed "Malaika" song in 1945 for his very beautiful girlfriend Halima Ramadhani Maruwa. Their parents disapproved of their relationship, and Halima was forced by her parents to marry an Asian tajir (wealthy man). Fadhili William, a Kenyan singer, is also associated with the song because he is the first person to record it.[3] Producer Charles Worrod provides yet another version, crediting the song to Grant Charo, William's brother-in-law (see Ondevo 2006), a claim which is also associated with the fact that Fadhili William was the first person to record the song. Charo is not known to have confirmed this claim.[1]

Another East African claiming to have written the song is Lucas Tututu from Mombasa.[1]

Although Fadhili William has always insisted on his authorship of "Malaika", even providing a detailed description of the circumstances in which he wrote it,[citation needed] he is only recognized as the composer for royalty purposes. In any case, William was the first to record the song, together with his band The Jambo Boys, in 1960.[citation needed]

It was later re-recorded at Equator Sound Studios by the British-born Kenyan music promoter Charles Worrod, who marketed the ballad to eventually becoming an internationally acclaimed song.[citation needed]

Miriam Makeba's early recording helped make it famous throughout the continent and eventually the world. Her performances of the song brought it to the attention of such famous names as Harry Belafonte, Pete Seeger, Boney M, Usha Uthup and Angélique Kidjo.[3]

The song has been covered by many other international artists such as Boney M, The Brothers Four, Helmut Lotti, Rocco Granata, Saragossa Band and is a staple for many African musicians.

Lyrics and meaning[edit]

The lyrics of the song differ slightly from version to version, with verses commonly rearranged, omitted, or combined. The Swahili dialect is likely Tanzanian, possibly Kenyan. Kidjo's and Makeba's versions change the song considerably.[1]

The early Fadhili William recording (1959) has only two verses. However, Miriam Makeba's recording has a third verse (the Pesa… verse) and a later record by Fadhili also has the Pesa verse.[1]

The song is sung by a poor young man who wishes to marry his beloved "Angel" or "Little bird" but is defeated by the bride price.

The original text and the translation by Rupert Moser originally into German is:

Malaika, nakupenda Malaika
 Angel, I love you angel
Malaika, nakupenda Malaika
 Angel, I love you angel
Nami nifanyeje, kijana mwenzio
 and I, what should I do, your young friend
Nashindwa na mali sina, we,
 I am defeated by the bride price that I don't have
Ningekuoa Malaika
 I would marry you, angel
Nashindwa na mali sina, we,
 I am defeated by the bride price that I don't have
Ningekuoa Malaika
 I would marry you, angel

Kidege, hukuwaza kidege
 Little bird, I think of you little bird
Kidege, hukuwaza kidege
 Little bird, I think of you little bird
Nami nifanyeje, kijana mwenzio
 and I, what should I do, your young friend
Nashindwa na mali sina, we,
 I am defeated by the bride price that I don't have
Ningekuoa Malaika
 I would marry you, angel
Nashindwa na mali sina, we,
 I am defeated by the bride price that I don't have
Ningekuoa, Malaika
 I would marry you, angel

Pesa zasumbua roho yangu
 The money (which I do not have) depresses my soul
Pesa zasumbua roho yangu
 the money (which I do not have) depresses my soul
Nami nifanyeje, kijana mwenzio
 and I, what should I do, your young friend
Nashindwa na mali sina, we
 I am defeated by the bride price that I don't have
Ningekuoa Malaika
 I would marry you, angel
Nashindwa na mali sina, we
 I am defeated by the bride price that I don't have
Ningekuoa Malaika
 I would marry you, angel

Hep Stars version[edit]

"Malaika"
HepStarsMalaika.jpg
Single by the Hep Stars
B-side"It's Nice to Be Back"
ReleasedApril 1967
RecordedApril 1967
StudioEuropafilm Studios, Stockholm
GenreSoft rock
Length2:48
LabelOlga
Songwriter(s)Fadhili William (credited)
Producer(s)Gert Palmcrantz
The Hep Stars singles chronology
"Consolation"
(1966)
"Malaika"
(1967)
"She Will Love You"
(1967)

Background[edit]

By the end of 1966, the Hep Stars had achieved ten top-10 hits in Sweden, while simultaneously enjoying their fifth number-1 single "Consolation", which was the fourth composition written by a member of the group.[4][5] They had by now accounted to 10% of all record sales in the country, with specifically Benny Andersson, who composed most of their singles, enjoying the royalties.[6] It was also around this time that the Hep Stars had decided that they wanted to star in a movie, in similar fashion to the Beatles A Hard Days Night and Help!.[7] A person outside of the group decided that the majority of the film were to be shot in Nairobi, the capital city of Kenya.[8] The group started traveling to Kenya without a screenplay, with drummer Christer Petterson admitting that a coherent screenplay first was attempted aboard the airplane.[8]

After arriving at Embakasi Airport (later renamed to Jomo Kenyatta International Airport), the group continued to film their projected movie during the morning hours. Their knowledge of "Malaika" was entirely coincidental, as during their stay at a hotel in the capital, the Hep Stars were eating dinner and were suddently approached by a chef, who worked in the hotel restaurant.[8] Having heard the statement that the Hep Stars were "the Swedish Beatles", he brought a guitar and started playing the song for them, much to their liking.[8] After finishing shooting the Kenyan parts of their movie, the group traveled back to Sweden, and entered Europafilm Studios in April to record "Malaika" with Gert Palmcrantz producing.[9]

Release[edit]

Liking the song, the single was released the same month, becoming their first single released in 1967. It was issued by their record label Olga Records with the catalogue number SO 38.[10] The B-side was the Andersson composition "It's Nice to Be Back", which was intended as the closing song for the Hep Stars movie, upon their return to Stockholm.[8] "It's Nice to Be Back" would later receive a Swedish translation titled "Min Egen Stad" ("My Own Town") recorded by Anni-Frid Lyngstad, who alongside Andersson was a member of ABBA.[11] The original pressing, which was made in Germany intended for Swedish import credits Fadhili William as the writer of it, making it one of the earliest recordings of the song to do so.

The single first entered Kvällstoppen on the 9th of May 1967 at a position of number 4.[12] The following week it had climbed all the way to number 1, a position it would prove to hold for five consecutive week.[12] On the 20th of June it had descended to number 2, staying there for three weeks.[12] On 11 July, it hit number 5 for one week, before descending to number 7, where it would stay for three weeks.[12] On 8 August, it was at number 8 before traveling to number 9 the following week, a position it hold for one week.[12] On the 22nd of August, it descended to number 10, before exiting the top-10 for the first time on 29 August, where it was noted at number 15.[12] "Malaika" was last seen on the chart on the 5th of September at a position of number 16.[12] In total, "Malaika" spent 18 weeks on the chart, of which sixteen were in the top-10, ten were in the top-5 and five were at number 1.[13] The single was also successful on Tio i Topp, where it reached number 6, spending two weeks on the chart.[14][15] It was the only fully African language-song to reach number one on a Swedish chart.

Personnel[edit]

  • Svenne Hedlund – lead vocals
  • Janne Frisk – guitar, harmony vocals
  • Lennart Hegland – bass guitar, harmony vocals
  • Benny Andersson – piano, harmony vocals
  • Christer Petterson – drums, harmony vocals

It is unclear who plays the flute solo on the recording.

Charts[edit]

Chart (1967) Peak

position

Sweden (Kvällstoppen)[13] 1
Sweden (Tio i Topp)[15] 6

Boney M. version[edit]

"Malaika"
Single by Boney M.
from the album Boonoonoonoos
B-side"Consuela Biaz"
ReleasedJune 1981
Recorded1981
GenrePop, Euro disco
LabelHansa Records (FRG)
Songwriter(s)Adam Salim
Producer(s)Frank Farian
Boney M. singles chronology
"Felicidad (Margherita)"
(1980)
""Malaika" / "Consuela Biaz""
(1981)
"We Kill the World / Boonoonoonoos"
(1981)

The version by German band Boney M. is the first single taken from their fifth album Boonoonoonoos (1981). It peaked at #13 in the German charts, their lowest placing so far after their commercial breakthrough. Boney M. would use the double A-side format in this period, typically with the A1 being the song intended for radio and A2 being more squarely aimed at discos. "Consuela Biaz" was first promoted as the A-side in Germany where the group performed it in pop show Musikladen. After a promotional visit to Spain where the group found "Malaika" had become a Top 10 hit, the title was remixed and then promoted as the A-side. It was the second consecutive Boney M. single not to be released in the UK, and their first not to be released in Japan.

The original German and Spanish 4:30 single mix featured no percussion ad-libs and most notably, after the second verse it has a key-change to a drum, handclaps and a cappella chant before the song quickly fades. When producer Frank Farian remixed the song for the 12" single and a new 7" edit, he added more percussion and synth and deleted this key-change part, replacing it with an outro with himself singing "Wimoweh, wimoweh" (deliberately borrowed from another African tune "The Lion Sleeps Tonight").

Personnel[edit]

Releases[edit]

7" Single

  • "Malaika" (Original single mix) - 4:30 / "Consuela Biaz" (Early version) - 5:05 (Hansa 103 350-100, Germany)
  • "Malaika" (Single remix) - 5:02 / "Consuela Biaz" (Single remix) - 4:57 (Hansa 103 350-100, Germany)
  • "Malaika" (Single remix) - 5:02 / "Consuela Biaz" (Unedited single remix) - 5:20 (Pepita SPSK 70518, Hungary)

12" Single

  • "Malaika" (Long Version) - 5:42 / "Consuela Biaz" (Single remix) - 4:57 (Hansa 600 400-213, Germany)

Charts[edit]

Chart (1981) Peak

position

Germany (GfK)[16] 13
Austria (Ö3 Austria Top 40)[17] 6
Netherlands (Single Top 100)[18] 14
Switzerland (Swiss Hitparade)[19] 4

1989 Remix[edit]

"Malaika (Lambada Remix)"
Single by Boney M.
from the album
Greatest Hits of All Times - Remix '89 - Volume II
ReleasedOctober, 1989
GenrePop, Euro disco
LabelHansa Records (FRG)
Songwriter(s)Adam Salim
Producer(s)Frank Farian
Boney M. singles chronology
"The Summer Mega Mix"
(1989)
"Malaika (Lambada Remix)"
(1989)
"Everybody Wants to Dance Like Josephine Baker"
(1989)

"Malaika (Lambada Remix)" is a 1989 single by German band Boney M., the only single taken from their remix album Greatest Hits of All Times - Remix '89 - Volume II. Although sampling bits of the original 1981 recording, it was more a re-recording than a remix since lead singer Liz Mitchell recorded new vocals for it, being the only member present on this recording since the other three original members Marcia Barrett, Bobby Farrell, Maizie Williams who had teamed up with singer Madeleine Davis had been fired by their producer Frank Farian.

Germany
7"

  • "Malaika" (Lambada Remix) - 2:59 / "Baby Do You Wanna Bump" (Remix for the 90s) - 3:35 (Hansa 112 809-100, 1989)

12"

  • "Malaika (Lambada Remix - Long Version) - 5:02 / "Baby Do You Wanna Bump" (Remix for the 90s) - 3:50 / "Happy Song" (French Kiss Remix) - 5:17 / "Malaika" (Lambada Remix - Radio Version) - 2:59 (Hansa 612 809-213, 1989)

CD

  • "Malaika (Lambada Remix - Long Version) - 5:02 / "Baby Do You Wanna Bump" (Remix for the 90s) - 3:50 / "Happy Song" (French Kiss Remix) - 5:17 / "Malaika" (Lambada Remix - Radio Version) - 2:59 (Hansa 612 809-213, 1989)

Footnotes[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d e "Malaika". Yale Kamusi Project. Archived from the original on February 11, 2012. Retrieved 2015-03-07.
  2. ^ "song "Malaika" with translation". Retrieved 2015-03-07.
  3. ^ a b Douglas Paterson (June–July 2001). "Fadhili William: A Remembrance". The Beat Magazine. Retrieved 2015-03-07.
  4. ^ "The Hep Stars - Consolation". www.thehepstars.se (in Swedish). Retrieved 2020-08-15.
  5. ^ "CONSOLATION av HEP STARS". NostalgiListan (in Swedish). Retrieved 2020-08-15.
  6. ^ Tobler, John (2012). Abba - Uncensored on the Record. Coda Books Ltd. ISBN 978-1-908538-23-9.
  7. ^ Tobler, John (2012). Abba - Uncensored on the Record. Coda Books Ltd. ISBN 978-1-908538-23-9.
  8. ^ a b c d e "Musikbyrån". smdb.kb.se. Svensk mediedatabas (SMDB). Retrieved 2020-08-15.
  9. ^ "The Hep Stars - Malaika". www.thehepstars.se (in Swedish). Retrieved 2020-08-15.
  10. ^ "The Hep Stars - Malaika / It's Nice To Be Back". Discogs. Retrieved 2020-08-15.
  11. ^ "English translation of liner notes". 2019-03-27. Archived from the original on 2019-03-27. Retrieved 2020-08-15.
  12. ^ a b c d e f g "MALAIKA av HEP STARS". NostalgiListan (in Swedish). Retrieved 2020-08-15.
  13. ^ a b Hallberg, Eric (193). Eric Hallberg presenterar Kvällstoppen i P 3: Sveriges radios topplista över veckans 20 mest sålda skivor 10. 7. 1962 - 19. 8. 1975. Drift Musik. ISBN 9163021404.
  14. ^ "The Hep Stars - Tio i Topp". www.thehepstars.se. Retrieved 2020-08-15.
  15. ^ a b Hallberg, Eric; Henningsson, Ulf (1998). Eric Hallberg, Ulf Henningsson presenterar Tio i topp med de utslagna på försök: 1961 - 74. Premium Publishing. ISBN 919727125X.
  16. ^ "Offizielle Deutsche Charts: Boney M". GfK Entertainment (in German). Offizielle Deutsche Charts. Retrieved 28 November 2018.
  17. ^ "Boney M. in der Österreicherischen Hitparade". Hung Medien. Retrieved 25 May 2013.
  18. ^ "Peak chart positions of Boney M. singles in the Netherlands". Hung Medien. Retrieved 6 July 2010.
  19. ^ "Peak chart positions of Boney M. singles in Switzerland". Hung Medien. Retrieved 6 July 2010.

Sources[edit]

External links[edit]