Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Culture | Homonyms In African languages

Homonyms refer to sets of words having the same spelling but different meanings (and origins). In many an African language, there exist words that are either spelled or sound the same, but have different meanings.

Cameroonian-born Swiss footballer, Breel Donald Embolo, cannot have his surname comfortably pronounced in certain Bantu dialects in certain parts of East and Central Africa.

In Swahili and a number of other Bantu dialects, it refers to male genitalia – the phallus, in particular. Back home amongst the Bulu people in his native Cameroon, it’s a form of greeting. Like “Hello”. Or “How are you?”

A Cameroonian friend of mine is usually teased whenever he is in the company of Ugandans by asking him to greet the ladies in his local language.

In eastern Uganda, the Bamasaba (or Bagisu as they are commonly known) say “Wanyala (nabi)” to mean thank you (very much). In south-western Uganda, this would translate to “You just peed (the ‘l’ is replaced with ‘r’)”.

In Lingala (DR Congo), “Ngai” refers to the pronoun “Me”. Amongst the Kamba and Kikuyu (Kenya), “Ngai” means “God”.

In Runyankole/Rukiga (Western Uganda), the verb “Okusitama” means “To sit”. In Luganda (Central Uganda), it means “to squat”.

In Chinyanja/Chichewa (Malawi/Zambia), the verb “Kufuna” means “To want/need”. In Luganda (Uganda), it translates to “To get/obtain”.

These, and many more. What homonyms do you know? Please share the same with us.  

Dan A.

Monday, June 29, 2015

Music | Song Review: Girlie O – Patoranking feat. Tiwa Savage

What would be your reaction if an acclaimed female artiste registered interest to remix a song you only released a couple of months back? Grant the request right away? Ask for payment of sorts? Snub the request? That is the kind of question only Patoranking can answer best.

The original version of Girlie O had been released in February 2014. Tiwa Savage – a self-confessed admirer of Patoranking – approached the singer with an idea of redoing the song a couple of weeks later. The remix would be released in May, 2014.

Girlie O has an RnB feel. The beat is different from the usual reggae-dancehall tempo that Patoranking has grown to be associated with. But it retains the same signature production heard in a good number of his other songs. Only you, a song featuring Uganda’s Jose Chameleone springs to mind. This could be down to having the same producer – WizzyPro.  

Girlie O is essentially a love song about two lovebirds that just cannot seem to get enough of each other. Like in the original version, Patoranking does the introductory verse. Tiwa Savage chips in with infectious vocals in the second, painting a perfect picture of a smitten adolescent.

{Tiwa Savage
Hmm ole ole
See him stealing my heart away
O tun bere sho le, sho le
Je ka jo ma wo le, wo de
Me love you very long long…long long

So pass me your love like a ping pong…ping pong
Cos you ring my bell like a ding dong….ding dong
Wooo hoo hoo-oo
Cos this love
Aint no go trouble no one
I know the feeling is strong

But you is a bandit
Never love another like….
Go tell my friends them, go tell my friends them, that he will die for me
Go tell my mama; go tell my papa that he will die for me
Go tell my friends them, go tell my friends them, that he will die for me
Go tell my mama; go tell my papa that he will die for me
Make way…make way}

Patoranking slots in on the next verse with a confession that just confirms the kind of feeling he has for the current love of his life. He talks about how long he has admired her, and shows willingness to surrender his all if that will make her stay glued to him.

{When me give you this, you give me that
Me girl so real, not a copycat
Baby, whine it like that
Me loving it when you giving me like that
Boom ba
You are a blessing
You came into my life, no more stressing
Say the smile on your face is impressing
Everything around you seems interesting
Do re mi fa so la ti do do do
Take you anywhere you wan go go go
Teach you everything you need to know know know
Show you that I love you so so so}

The response from Tiwa Savage is the typical dialogue between two lovebirds still at that stage of the relationship where one’s belly flips at the sight of the other. Her style of delivery is deceptively laid-back, but she manages to hold her fort. She is no Soprano; But Tiwa Savage does things to people’s music. One would have to revisit Oyi (The remix, with Flavour N’abania) to see the kind of things she is capable of.

In this verse, she tries to hit the high notes in what turns out to be her last major contribution on the track. The two combine in the second last verse, in a manner typical of high school lovers on a prom date.

{Boy you know you drive me insane o
Girl me wan take away your pain
Take it away so I will never be the same o
Sugar, your fire can’t cool
Tiwa Savage is good for your soul
Patoranking is a ruler
And I can be your one and only queen Sheba}

Patoranking returns solo towards the very end, probably to sign off his bit. He mutters the same plain words in pretty much way he does in the opening verse, mentioning his name a couple of times as the song fades to end. 

Dan A.

Sunday, June 21, 2015

Parenting | Fathers' Day

I usually try to refrain from jumping onto bandwagon celebrations. But for some reason, this fathers’ day appears to have gotten me thinking many things. There are things we often take for granted. The provisions. The guidance. Life's choices. And many others.

I remember trying out something cheeky in my primary school – Primary Two – to be specific. One day, I woke up and decided I was done with the name I had been baptized with, more than six years earlier. My dad was cool with it, partly because (I think) I had posted good results that term.

A couple of years later, someone came visiting, and had carried with him a secondary school Atlas. On several pages of the same was a school stamp that read like "Stolen From Ntare School". I was curious. I wanted to know what type of school would have such words on its stamp.

I asked around and got a few clues. Ntare School was one school that had nurtured many big people in the country. There were university professors all over the place singing the School’s praises. The cabinet had many of them, too, and M7 was still the beacon of hope for African politics in many a political observer’s eyes.

My mind was made up. I was going to Ntare School when I became of age. I had a word with my dad, and he was okay with it – as long as I got the grades to take me there.

As luck would have it, I managed to get the grades and joined Ntare. Fast forward to six years later, it was decision time again. I sat with my old man and we talked career choices. He was all traditional and cautious.

He wanted me to do one of those prestigious courses, somewhere along the lines of Engineering, Pharmacy and Medicine (I was doing PCB/M, so all options were still viable).

I told him I would be going for IT, a relatively new course that not many knew much about at the time (Inspired by one Samuel Kukiriza, a high school idol of mine). We talked at length, and I was finally able to convince him. As long as I got the course on government sponsorship, he said. Such was his tolerance. He has always respected my choices.

At the same time, he was one of the greatest disciplinarians I ever saw. We were always the best of friends as long as I was not in the wrong. But things would become bloody if he ever got me trying to be funny (hehe). He was such an excellent executor of the carrot and stick approach.

At times I felt he was being too strict with me and things. But I would appreciate much later every time I looked back to the stuff I had gone through. I remember him warning me against being one dimensional once I got to campus.

Things had changed, he said. While he had a ready job after almost every stage of his education, there was a possibility of roaming the streets for years with no job in sight in our days.

I had to think outside the box. After all, I was already above 18, and free to make decisions of my own, he stressed. Throughout my entire life, it was clear he never wished to see himself raise a mollycoddle. Today, he remains one of my best friends. 

Happy fathers’ day to the best father I know.

Dan A.