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Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Music | The truth behind Mbilia Bel’s legendary hit, Nakei Nairobi

Nakei Nairobi (I am going to Nairobi) actually had two versions. In the original version, Mbilia Bel sang about Duni (Elodie), a childhood friend who had gone to stay in Nairobi, a friend she now missed.

She heard about the issues this friend was facing in a foreign land, so she decided to go and bring her back to Kinshasa.

When Moi executed his madness of banning foreign music, Tabu Ley - who had written the song - decided to twist the original version and come up with a Kiswahili version.

The new lyrics were changed to mean entirely something different from what had been originally sang about. This new version went like: "Tuende Nairobi, tumuimbie baba Moi (Let’s go go to Nairobi, so we may sing for baba Moi").

Listen to the original version and you will see the differences. The song talks about a certain Duni, in the chorus;

"Nakei Nairobi, po na salisa Duni /
Nakei Nairobi; /
Na ko zonga na Duni"

Meaning:

"I'm in Nairobi /
To lend a helping hand Duni /
I'm in Nairobi /
I will bring Duni"

You also realize that she talks about her and Duni having grown up together, like twins and stuff.

"Na yoki Nzambe motindo ya mpasi, ba nyokoli yo /
Yaka pembeni nazali se wayo ya motema /
To vandi bo mwana, to meseni nga nayo, Dunia /
To bandi bo mwana, ki moninga na miso ya mama /
Ezali mabe nayoka okomi na pasi naza te /
Na koya na kenya na ya ko zwa yo tozonga /
na Kinshasa. Ya Elodie, mapasa /
lokumu ya famille o ti wapi? /
Ya Elodie, mapasa /"

Meaning (translation may not bring out the exact picture, but you get the point);

"I have heard of the problems that now bother you /
Come to me, my heart is your home /
From the childhood we’ve been there for each other, Dunya /
A childhood friendship, born under the watchful eye of my mother /
It is terrible to heard that you fall sick and I am not able to help you /
I will go to Kenya to bring you back to Kinshasa /
Please Elodie, my twin /
What have you done to your family’s name?" 

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