Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Palm Wine Music: Koo Nimo and Osei Korankye at Afrikafestival Hertme

This great 2008 performance by Koo Nimo at Afrikafestival Hertme in the Netherlands has been around Youtube for a while, and now we have another recently posted Youtube video which presents a more complete version of this performance. The always incredible Koo Nimo is joined here by members of his Adadam Agofomma group as well as the seprewa virtuoso Osei Korankye (whose collaboration album with Koo Nimo is available on this blog). The set begins with a seprewa/guitar piece "Abube ne atebe" that features Osei, followed by a beautiful song entitled "Death is everybody's business." The performance concludes with a version of the Ghanaian standard "Yaa Amponsah" that quickly turns into Koo Nimo's own tune "Aburokyire Abrabo" (Overseas Life). In case you're interested, I've posted a full recording of this tune below, along with a translation by Joe Latham from the booklet Ashanti Ballads of Koo Nimo.

On the subject of Koo Nimo, you might like to check out this beautiful, handmade book honoring Agya Koo that was recently acquired by the Smithsonian.  The book is called Listen, listen : Adadam Agofomma : honoring the legacy of Koo Nimo, a collaboration between artists Mary Hark, Atta Kwami, and Koo Nimo himself. An article about the book is on the Smithsonian site here.

Koo Nimo - Aburokyire Abrabo

Aburokyire Abrabo (Overseas Life)

Mother, Oh Mother, your son has made a terrible journey.
Now I am stranded overseas.
Darkness has encircled me.
There can be no witness to what I endure alone.

An unsuccesful mission is a disgrace,
So how can we come hone?
If you fail, no child is named after you.
Death is preferable to shame.

Everyone has reasons for leaving his native land.
Some travel to study, or to marry.
Some go as tourists, some look for jobs.
Some seek medical treatment.

Some return, but others die overseas.
What a tragedy that is.
Why should this be?
It is our individual destiny.
Life has its bad times we have to pass through.

The cold weather gets so bitter men lose their senses.
Poverty, family problems, illness and accidents
All aggravate the stranger's sad state.
Married or single, life is not pleasant in a foreign land.

Bad company, gossip, rumours, misunderstandings,
So many troubles could be settled by speaking to the family.
There is but one consolation:
Namely that travel brings wisdom to men.

Spirits of our Ancestors,
Gods of our Ancestors,
Watch over our brothers abroad.
Let them return home safely.
To live in Europe is to understand this lament. 


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