Baby KaaFo Lullaby
Baby Kaafo means “Baby Don’t Cry” in Ga and is the title of a traditional lullaby from Ghana. Ga is a language spoken by the Ga people of Ghana, West Africa.
Background To my Recording of Baby KaaFo
I directed a series of plays for Equal Stages, including an extract from a play by a British playwright called Zindika, ‘Paper and Stone’. I learnt from my interview with Zindika that during her original workshop of Paper and Stone in London, early 1990, the cast decided to include a Ghanian lullaby in the theatre piece. They felt this would root the play and its themes with the African ancestry of the characters involved in the play. The play did not specify which Ghanian lullaby should be used, and so I selected one known to my Ga speaking family. However, when I went to research the lullaby, I couldn’t find it anywhere online. So I had to go straight to an original source. I asked granny.
Happily sharing a clip of Baby KaaFo, a lullaby from Ghana, sung by my Grandmother, Mrs Rebecca Odonkor:
Lyrics and Translation
Here is my translation of the Baby KaaFo lullaby into English:
Baby Kaa Fo [baby don’t cry]
Mgme O mami e-te? [where has your mummy gone?]
E -te lai [she’s gone to the market]
Mini e shi ha bo? [what did she leave you?]
E shi mi Akpakpa [she left me a pawpaw]
Ha mi eko ma ye! [give me some!]
Inha bo fai! Toh noh! [I won’t give you any! expression of refusal]
Ke o mami ba, ma ke le [when mummy comes I’ll tell her!]
Ke o papi ba, ma ke, le [when daddy comes i’ll tell him!]
Ta ta tay – yay yay yay – Yaa yaa wooshio! [nonsense words]
The Ga Language and Family Ties
My mother’s side of the family are Ga, as are my paternal grandmother’s side of the family. The Ga people belong to one of the three main tribes in Ghana, their roots are in Greater Accra.
I found a lovely blog about the Ga people and their origins including the culture of the Ga language.
It’s been great to have an opportunity to learn the Baby KaaFo lullaby, and have a go at understanding the Ga language along the way. Not to mention capturing my granny singing. Being far from home gives unique opportunities.
What joy to have mama Odonkor’s beautiful singing immortalised for all to experience. She sings with joy and ease with all the love of a mother of nations.
Thank you for sharing this with us x