Translations of Songs

Mtentha moto mwana wamasiye ngati alibe amake.

Translation: “Burn yourself with fire, you orphans, as if you did not have a mother.

Meaning: Sexual diseases like HIV/AIDS can cause orphans, who bemoan the loss of their parents. Kadziotche


Ayemwe atsale adzamange. Anthu tonse titha. Ayemwe atsale adzamange.

Translation: “Whoever is left, let him/her build! We are going to extinction. Whoever is left, let him/her build!

Meaning: HIV/AIDS is killing the villagers because people have forgotten the old ways. If the moral code is not adhered to, then there will be no one left to rebuild the village. Ayemwe atsale adzamange


Anagula njinga yokwerakwera ede tate, nkhondo abwana ede tate Mandevu.

Translation: “Mandevu bought a bicycle, a second hand one. There is war, Master Mandevu.

Meaning: In this context, a second hand bicycle is another man’s wife. Mandevu is stirring up trouble in the village through his womanizing ways. Mandevu


Wampatsa imodzi Lambwe, ina adamtengera Lambwe.

Translation: “We had a Lambwe (a powerful chief). He had one horn; he lost the other (through witchcraft), Lambwe.

Meaning: A village should be a peaceful place, with the authority of the chief respected. The horns here refer to the chief’s senior councillors. If there is trouble between the chief and his councillors, the village suffers. Times of strife and difficulty are often associated with witchcraft. Lambwe


Pakati pa nyanja Pali dona. Apo tikauze amai, nsaru ya mwana yataika!

Translation: “In the middle of the ocean, there is a lady. Let us remind her that the child’s cloth got lost.

Meaning: This is a reminder that sexual taboos can apply when a child is away from its family (the child’s clothes are not at home). It is risking the dreaded slimming disease for parents to have sexual relations during times of taboo. Mariya


Suwo Mkango ukulira m’maiwe, maiwe maiwe e.

Translation: "Here is the lion, it roars from the pool (the swamps, the forests), from the pool."

Meaning: The voices of the ancestors come from the forest, near the graveyard. Gule wamkulu dancers are also seen to be like wild animals (zirombo). Water has a strong association with ancestral powers for the Chewa. Mkango


E ee pali chuwa chuwa pali Njovu pali nyama, pali nyungwa.

Translation: "E, ee, where there is water, there is the elephant, there is meat/game. If there is meat there could also be an old elephant without tusks."

Meaning: In this context, the meat or game refers to sex. This song advises the chief on sexual taboos. The chief must refrain from sexual activity (to be an elephant without tusks) when taboos must be upheld. Njovu


"Kamvuluvulu o tate (2x) unamuona ogo tate Kamvuluvulu.

Translation: “The small whirlwind. Did you see him? Alas, the small whirlwind.”

Meaning: The handsome newcomer to the village can prove to be a troublemaker. Like a whirlwind, he can cause all sorts of problems. Kamvuluvulu