Sounds of Africa: Malaika the Original

On my way home from work the other day, the song Malaika came up on my shuffle of songs and I was stunned by it's beauty as always. This is basically one of the songs to know on the continent; generations grew up with it and I'm positive this song was cruising through my veins before I could even remember. Whether its sung by Miriam Makeba alone, with Mr. Belafonte, the newer version by Angelique Kidjo, or in a cappella as done by the Kenyan Boys Choir, this song is brilliant for first lyric to last breath.

For those of you who may not know, Malaika meaning "angel," is a Swahili song by Kenyan composer Fadhili Williams who originally sang it in the 1960s with his group Jambo Boys and clearly has not always received the recognition he deserved for this song. The lyrics are so sweet*:

Malaika, nakupenda, Malaika
Angel, I love you, angel
Nami nifanyeje, kijana mwenzio
And I your young lover, what can I do
Nashindwa na mali sina, we
Was I not defeated by the lack of forture
Ningekuoa Malaika
I would marry you angel

I had never heard the original version until recently (all hail the power of youtube) and today, I'm so excited to bring you that version! Take a listen. It is slightly different from others that I have heard but of course, I love it. I could totally imagine myself drifting away to this in Lamu because this version definitely evokes the warm sun and the oceans sway of the Kenyan coast.

What do you think of this version? Do you have any particular memories of this song?

*click here for the rest of the lyrics and English translation


Anonymous said...

simply the best

john otim said...

hey just discovered your pages. exciting. amazingly similar to what we do in some ways. check us out, the online journal called nile journal