Malaika

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For the South African musical group, see Malaika (Group). For the Islamic concept of angels (Mala'ika), see Islamic view of angels.

Malaika is a Swahili song. Malaika generally means "angel" in Swahili. As is the case with many Swahili words, it is ultimately derived from Arabic. An alternative Swahili meaning is a "baby" or "small child",[1] hence at least one particular traditional version of the song is commonly used as a lullaby throughout East Africa.[2] One of the better known versions is possibly the most famous love song in Kenyan pop music, as well as being one of the most widely known of all Swahili songs.

The lyrics of the song differ slightly from version to version; the title itself is subject to variation, such as "Ewe Malaika" or "My Angel".[3]

Authorship and Covers[edit]

Authorship of the popular song is usually credited to Kenyan musician Fadhili William, though this is disputed.[4]

Some sources claim that the song was written by Tanzanian songwriter Adam Salim while he was living in Nairobi in 1945–46.[5] According to this story: "Malaika was composed by a mechanic called Adam Salim of Nairobi (born 1916). He composed the song in 1945 for his very beautiful girlfriend Halima Ramadhani Maruwa. The parents of both of them disapproved of their relationship, and Halima was forced by her parents to marry an Asian tajiri."

Producer Charles Worrod provides yet another version, crediting the song to Grant Charo, William's brother-in-law (see Ondevo 2006). Charo is not known to have confirmed this claim.[3]

Another East African claiming to have written the song is Lucas Tututu from Mombasa.[3]

However, 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 usually 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[4]

The song has been covered by many other international artists such as The Brothers Four, Helmut Lotti, Hep Stars, Rocco Granata, 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 Makeba's versions — as others — pretty badly mangle the Swahili.[3]

The early Fadhili William recording (1959) has only two verses. However, Mariam Makeba's recording has a third verse (the Pesa… verse) and a later record by Fadhili also has the Pesa verse.[3]

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
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

Boney M. version[edit]

"Malaika"
Single by Boney M.
from the album Boonoonoonoos
B-side "Consuela Biaz"
Released June 1981
Format 7" single, 12" single
Recorded 1981
Genre Pop, Euro disco
Label Hansa Records (FRG)
Producer(s) Frank Farian
Boney M. singles chronology
"Felicidad (Margherita)"
(1980)
"Malaika" / "Consuela Biaz"
(1981)
"We Kill the World / Boonoonoonoos"
(1981)
"Malaika (Lambada Remix)"
Single by Boney M.
from the album
Greatest Hits of All Times - Remix '89 - Volume II
Released October, 1989
Format 7" single, 12" single, CD-single
Genre Pop, Euro disco
Label Hansa Records (FRG)
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)

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

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)

1989 Remix[edit]

"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 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. ^ Definitions for "'Malaika" at the Kamusi Project.
  2. ^ Lullabies from Mother Africa, a compilation album for children with the lullaby version included.
  3. ^ a b c d e "Malaika". Yale Kamusi Project. Retrieved 2015-03-07. 
  4. ^ a b Douglas Paterson (June–July 2001). "Fadhili William: A Remembrance". The Beat Magazine. Retrieved 2015-03-07. 
  5. ^ "song "Malaika" with translation". Retrieved 2015-03-07. 

Sources[edit]

External links[edit]