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Azizi African Folk Songs (93* d) RE: African Folk Songs 31 Mar 12

Here's a comment about the Ghanaian children's game "Sansa Kroma" from

[written in response to the question]
"Can someone list the correct pronunciation for the whole song?

I think probably the most authentic source for the song is Let Your Voice Be Heard! Songs from Ghana and Zimbabwe by Adzenyah, Maraire, and Tucker (the first 2 authors were born in Africa, the 3rd one is an expert on world music). The words are in the Akan language (one of several languages spoken in Ghana) and the phonetic pronunciation given in this book is:

sah-sah kroh-mah nee nay woo aw-chay chay koh-koh mah

The "n" sound in Sansa is not pronounced. I have seen this song a couple other places and the pronunciation has been listed as the same.

The translation for these words is "Sansa, the hawk. You are an orphan, and so you snatch up baby chicks." The book says: "Akan children singing this song are reminded that if anything happend to their parents and they became orphans, they would not have to wander alone, frantically trying to provide for their own needs. They would be taken in by a relative or a family in their village." This version is a playground song. The instructions for the game are: "A rock is passed around the circle on the ground, according to one of two possible patterns. In the first pattern the rock is grabbed on the first beat and passed low to the ground to the right on the third beat of each measure. [grab, pass] In the second the child taps the rock on the ground on the first and third beat of the first measure. In the next measure the rock is passed on the first beat followed by a clap on the third beat. [tap, tap, pass, clap] This pattern is repeated." It also gives some instructions for clapping patterns, different ways to perform the song, and dancing to the song.

Another note in the book: "Kwasi Aduonum includes a variant of Sansa Kroma called "Sansa Akroma" in his dissertation, a wonderful collection of Ghanian folktale songs. He classifies the song the song as a mmoguo song - a "song interlude" to be used by the audience or narrator at any point during the telling of a story which seems related in some way to the idea of thsi song. In his version, a baby male eagle chases fowl instead of attending his own mother's funeral, because he thought he had to eat before going to the funeral, if he hoped to eat at all. Aduonum writes "this is a teasing song referring to those who are truant and who do not give proper attention to events or duties which need to be given a priority.""

As you can see, Let Your Voice Be Heard! is a very valuable resource if you are teaching about African music (this is just the info given for ONE song! and it has lots of great background info on Ghana and Zimbabwe and African music in general.)...

As for different versions... this is just the nature of folksongs in general. Usually the older a song is, the more variants on the song there are (a really old ballad or sea chantey might have a dozen different versions if you look hard enough), like a "whisper down the lane" effect because the songs are passed on through the aural tradition over sometimes hundreds of years in different areas of a country. Most of them weren't put into musical notation till sometime in the late 19th to early 20th century when folksong collectors like Childs, the Lomaxes, or the Seegers started to do this to preserve the music for posterity. Think of all the different versions of American folk songs and singing games like "Little Sally Water," "Tideo," or even "The Wheels on the Bus." One of the defining characterisitcs of a folk song is that it is mutable -the written versions we find are just ONE snapshot of the song collected by one folksong collector/musicologist in one place and time.

Last edited by Christine Nowmos (2008-09-23 08:19:47)"

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