Here is background info on my story.—Aaron
This tale comes from the Mbaka tribe, part of the Ambundu people of northwest Angola. Kimanaueze—shortened here to “Kimana”—is a common figure in Ambundu stories.
In most of Africa—and in many other cultures worldwide—it is the custom for a groom to send a wedding gift to the bride’s family. Names for this include “wooing present,” “bride-price,” and “bride-wealth.”
The tale is retold from #13, “The Son of Kimanaueze and the Daughter of Sun and Moon,” in Folk-Tales of Angola, collected and edited by Heli Chatelain, Houghton Mifflin, Boston and New York, 1894 (Vol. 1 of the Memoirs of the American Folk-Lore Society.) I have tried to retain the rhythm of the original language.
How to Sing the Song
Good Day to You
Good day to you, my sister. Good day to you.
The song in my retelling, sung by the girls from Heaven, is a traditional greeting and farewell song of Angola. The lyrics are my own rendering of a common version in mixed Bantu and Portuguese: “O desayo, menina. O desayo.” The Portuguese menina actually means “little girl,” but variation is part of this musical tradition, so you can substitute whatever you like—“my sister,” “my brother,” “my mother,” “my father,” “my teacher,” and so on. And of course, the music can repeat with these variations until everyone is properly greeted.
Like most traditional African songs, this one has a syncopation that can be tricky. The rhythm of eight beats is accented on the one, the four, and the seven. To get the feel of it, clap along in the following pattern: ONE, two, three, ONE, two, three, ONE, two. Except for the sis in “sister,” each syllable of the lyrics falls on an accented beat.
The song can be found with additional lyrics and music in full arrangement in Echoes of Africa in Folk Songs of the Americas, by Beatrice Landeck, David McKay Company, New York, 1961. My thanks to Lois Sprengnether for calling it to my attention.