Tag Archives: Nyelemba

And I stopped singing the homesick blues…

I had been feeling blue after spending an afternoon eating leftovers from the fridge and gazing gloomily at photographs of family.

Just after 7 pm our housemate Eric shouted from outside that our friends had arrived. I had forgotten. My singing students/singing teachers had turned up fully prepared to work on our pieces and I, consumed by my mood, had completely forgotten about our song swapping date.

Before I had time to worry about my lack of preparation the three of us found ourselves stood up, finger clicking to the James Brown classic ‘I Got You (I Feel Good)‘ (an ironic choice on my part, I know). And so, as Abdoulaye’s scatty imaginary trumpet blasted out funky sounds in front of me, I began to forget my bad mood, and instead have a bit of a dance.

Souleymane and Coroba

My homesickness drifted away from our house, the clouds of my mood cleared and when it was my turn to work on my Bambara songs I realised I had been a little shortsighted.

Abdoulaye and Souleymane practise the Bambara song, Nyelemba, with Mikaela

Abdoulaye and Souleymane, with patience and warmth worked slowly through the lyrics of the day’s song, explaining the meaning of each word carefully.

This is a song about someone who is leaving their loved ones to travel“.

And the first line,

Kana kashi nemado kabi keita, kanga tdo tdalakele fe…

When I leave, do not weep. Because when I walk away you will still be with me.

“Is this song traditional?” I asked.

“No. I wrote this song. But it’s your song now, you can have it”.