Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Nwa Baby: A Detailed Igbo to English Translation

There is a popular Igbo Nigerian song on YouTube by Flavour N’Abania. It is called Nwa Baby. Anybody who has been listening to the increasingly amazing dance-worthy beats that are now emerging from Nigeria on a constant basis would not fail to have heard this particular song. Now, a lot of what Flavor and his friends were saying on the track were in the Igbo language, and while that has not stopped a lot of non-Igbo listeners from appreciating the song, I felt compelled to give a full translation of this song to English for the benefit of those who might be wondering exactly what was being said.

In this fairly detailed translation that you are about to read, I’ll attempt to translate the lyrics of this song as they should be understood in the best context—it is not just going to be a shoddy, simple, word-for-word translation. I’ll try as much as I can (granted that I am not Flavour himself who can improve on this), to explain what the song is saying.

The words of the song will be rendered in bold font after which I’ll give an underlined direct translation where necessary. Then, in brackets, I’ll explain it in detail.

Don’t you wish someone would do the same for all those other songs you are inconspicuously drawn to even though you know not the meaning of the words?

Flavour – Nwababy

(MC announces and introduces Flavor N’abania): Ladies and Gentlemen, I present to you the rave of the moment: FLAVOUR N’ABANIA!!

(applause as music begins in presumably a party scene)

(1st voice) Alcohol

(2nd voice) look, look, wait, mba—alhohol {the second voice on the track is suggesting a more fanciful frat-boy, beer-parlor or college lingo when he objects to the word ‘alcohol’ and substitutes ‘alhohol’}

(3rd voice says jokingly) Olingo…Olingo gbukwe ghu =freebies---perish with freebies! {this voice playfully chides the 2nd voice for wanting freebies as buddies would normally do when they are in a group}

Flavour picks up here, addressing some gorgeous babe in this party scene that caught his eye…

(7 times) Nwababy…nye m ife gi = Baby girl…give me that which you have {Here, Flavour drops a masterful pun—a masterful play on words by using the term “nye m ife gi” which indicates he wants something from the girl he is addressing but the phrase is safe enough as to be understood in a multitude of contexts. He could be asking for her attention, for a dance with her, for her smile, for her beauty, etc. As the song progresses, it becomes gradually clear that he wants her body; he wants to make love to her}

Nwababy..nye m ife gi. Okwa n’abania = Baby girl.. give me that which you have. This very night.

I don hammer no be small, now it’s time to chop money {I have hit the jackpot/I have made it big/I am rich now and so now it is the time to spend some money}

Somebody say “N’abania, na-atakwanu ife umu nwanyi a” {Will someone holler “Tonight, ladies you can eat anything you want”. Flavour is trying to make it rain at the party obviously, so he is indicating that the ladies present can eat and drink at his expense}

See dem girls dem plenty = I see a lot of girls here {since this party scene is probably crawling with a lot of college-type babes of the Nigerian variety,  of which many have the reputation of trading sexual favors for money, good grades, elite company etc, Flavour wastes no time teasing out this fact. In a most playful and complimentary fashion, he acknowledges the fact that the girl he is addressing is a hustler of some sort}

Waka Waka baby…oh yeah {this suggests that the girl is always walking from one guy’s house to the other}

Wuru wuru baby….oh yeah {this suggest that the girl is tricky or crafty}

I go tell my mama…oh yeah =I’ll tell my mother

I go tell my papa..oh yeah = I’ll tell my father

And I go tell am say:you be waka waka baby..oh yeah =I’ll tell ‘em that you are a walkabout babe or a streetwalker

You be wuru wuru baby…oh yeah =I’ll tell ‘em you are a tricky or crafty babe

Corner corner baby…oh yeah; Sango sango baby..oh yeah; Para rara baby..oh yeah {“Corner corner baby” expresses the fact that the girl in question is always found in dimly lit corners and alleys. This highly suggests that the girl might be a call-girl. Here, and as you will see in the rest of the song, Flavour employs a lot of onomatopoeia; he says words which individually have no meaning save to express a heightened degree of excitement brought about by this party babe to whom his words are directed}

Oh baby sawa lee..sawa sawa sawa lee (2ce)… ASHAWO {the word “sawa’ or ‘sawam’ indicates the act of walking, or movement of the feet as in a dance. Here, Flavor is indicating that the girl in question is light-footed—walking around easily from place to place or of nimble gait. He concludes that she may be a call-girl with the word Ashawo}

Kpomkpotom kpomkpom; kporokotom kpomkpom; ikpomkpotom kpomkpom; kporokotom kpomkpom; kpakolokpa kpakolokpa kpakolokpa kpomkpom; ojarikpoko, ukwu nwa baby, achukurege kpomkpom {Here Flavour goes off the chain. Not finding words to adequately convey the height of his excitement, he lapses into a series of onomatopoeic renditions designed to communicate the supposed elegance of a seductively dressed temptress of a woman. These sounds are supposed to communicate the rippling movements of the girl’s body as she walks or perhaps dances—breasts bobbing up and down; her buttocks jiggling as she walked or danced; the movement of her thighs; the swaying of her hips in movement etc}

Ashawo Awosha Awosha Ashawo Ashawo Awosha kpomkpom {the word Ashawo means call-girl or an escort. To differentiate a call-girl from a prostitute or a whore (akwuna), a call girl’s client makes an appointment usually by telephone. They (call-girls) are not usually randomly picked from street corners like prostitutes. A call-girl may be gainfully employed or may be in school, and then renders her sexual services discreetly to her clients in exchange for money or some other material incentives. Here, Flavour twists the word Ashawo around artistically by saying Awosha. The effect was to remove some of the negative sting or punch from the word}

Eh---Eh---Eh---Eh---Eh—Eh kpomkpom {Yes—Yes---Yes---Yes---Yes---Yes. Clearly, if the girl he was addressing his song to was dancing or walking, Flavour appreciates the spectacle in front of him. He recognizes the silky sophistication of this Babygirl (Nwababy) even though he likens her charm to that of a call-girl’s.

And the baby sawa lele eh..sawa sawa sawa lee (2ce)…ASHAWO = And this baby is light-footed or nimble with her gait(2ce) as to be regarded a CALL-GIRL.

Flavor addresses his fans, the general audience and his colleagues at this point…

To all my fans in the house n’abania = To all my fans in the house this night…

(dropping names): Flavour Shelters, Alamieyeseigha, Zubby, Akwei Soldier, Ogbuefi Nnanyelugo, (O gini di=Oh, what the hell), Ma Holla, Beauty  I na-eli eli (Beauty, I see you wining and dining), Nze na Swiss (You, my titled influential man in Switzerland—an affectionate way of saying that his friend is so rich he has a Swiss account), Omaliyo, Honorable Prince Sunny Nwogbo, Sir Vic Obiekwe, Sisko Dogado….

(7 times): Nwababy…nye m ife gi = Babygirl…give me that which you have.

Na soso waka I come dey go; Anywhere I go a na-ata ife {I have been going to a lot of places recently; anywhere I go, people are feasting/partying/wining and dining}

All my guys where una dey?; From here to Salon Hotel {My Pals, where are you guys? From here to Salon Hotel}

[scroll up to see the hook]

Di anyi imakwa ebe a tunyere m? = Yo dude, do you know where I was just dispatched to?

(In closing and with Flavour making another sexual remark)

Ala di n’udi n’udi….ala, ala di n’udi n’udi…ala (2ce) = Breasts come in different varieties

Ala ma mma, were aka gi jide ya..ala =when you see perky breasts, reach out and touch them

Ala ma mma, were onu gi michaa ya ..ala = when you see succulent breasts, go ahead and suck them.

The End.

I hope that translation helped you on some level.

By the way, if Flavour N'abania ever gets to see this modest attempt at sharing  this great song of his with many non-Igbo speakers, and feels compelled to correct my translation of his work, the revised one from Flavor will be accepted wholeheartedly and with all humility - after all, who better than the genius himself can say in his own words what exactly he was trying to communicate?


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  1. love love this song, godfather! thanks for the translation for the song...

  2. hahaha this is a wonderful post...ive loved this song from the moment i heard it and the only word i confidently was the word 'Ashawo'...i didnt even know what nwababy meant until now loool. I now fully understand this song that ive been dancing to in the comfort of my bedroom and i love the way you interpret what was going on and i have to say i agree with your interpretation. If only u were Ghanaian, u would have translated 'Angelina' for me loool

  3. Hey I am Ghanaian :) I just didn't grow up there ENTIRELY. What you trying to do here--get my fellow Ghanaians to laugh at me? :)

  4. looooooool! 'fairly detailed translation' and 'hope it helped on some level'. i'm sure flavour will read this and even be more enlightened about the song he performed. loool. now i completely get the song. makes sense now. if a guy comes and tries to sing me this, he is dead meat oo!

    P.S. are4 you taking translation requests?

  5. Ok, what's your translation request?

  6. ada owerri by bracket and jmartins. i want to know what the chours means.

  7. Nice hahahaha. All these while, I thought that when he says "n'abania", that he was calling his name. You know how Timaya and Duncan Mighty likes to call their names when singing.

    Permission to post the link on Flavour's fanpage? Let me know if I should go ahead.

  8. MOLADAY, I can translate the Yoruba ones for you for a little fee of $50

  9. By all means Buni--ride ahead! I didn't know he had a facebook fan page or I would have posted it there myself. I saw his faceboook profile, and it had over 4900 people, so I guessed that he might have already maxed out his facebook friend limit.

    Good thinking, bro. Do what you must do.

  10. Thank u very much godfather...understood da song a bit but get most words.
    Was worried, thot twas a vulgar song but its ok.

  11. My own little addition as one who bleeds 042 ... Saloon Hotel is a low class brothel in one of the slums in Enugu, not that I ever went :-) ...

  12. The background melody in this song is "El Manicero," which was a huge hit in Africa about 80 years ago and has continued to resurface. It came from Cuba originally. Did it sound familiar when you first heard it? Just curious.

  13. Oops, that should be spelled "El Manisero"

  14. I guess I can see the faint resemblance. That is hardly surprising anyway because a lot of songs these days are just reconfigurations of already existing material. I think this version is a vast improvement--certainly more melodious and more danceable. Thanks for spotting that similarity.

  15. its a vulgar song people but lets face it... he is good. thanks Godfather

  16. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yMSTYtMSbL0

  17. It really helped,thanks!!

  18. This song is a hit in south africa. Thank u Godfather for the detailed translation. Wow. Im loving the song even more now.

  19. Btw the song is a big hit in EA. The words "sawa" "sawa" ...... Are a direct translation of "FINE" in swahili - 'A girl in this instance'. Thus for quite a while, myself and so many other E Africans belived that the song is from EA just some version of swahili song mixed with a lot of native influence or local dailect.

    Our translation, naively went something like;

    A Baby Sawa sawaleh translated - "a baby fine fine yeah,"

    Forgive our innocent misinterpretion.

    Looking for ward to Ashawo's visit.

  20. Thanks Mr. It is interesting to note how popular the song is all over Africa, but I have often wondered why it seems to be most popular in East Africa. Most of the people checking for the interpretation of this song, and who have been led by their searches to my blog, seem to be predominantly from East Africa.

    And now you've given an excellent explanation. Thanks a lot. I am thinking of translating the rest of Flavor's work since he has such a huge following outside his native Nigeria.

    Remain Blessed.

  21. Another shocker for me is the fact that original tune is from yr 2009 or thereabouts, right around the time psquare peter n paul were big. Its actually psquare/2face those are the ones who really cracked the scene for the entry of nigerian music into east africa.
    The region is more homogenous than most people think we have swahili spoken by >80m pple.

    Our ladies go berserk at the mention of big naija music even when they have no clue what the lyrics mean.

    Get us more clearly there's talent out there

  22. You know, I wonder if many of these Nigerian artists know how much they are appreciated in East Africa ( Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda etc) and in South Africa. Nigeria has roughly 150 million people in it, and I suppose many of these artists may simply be more interested in cornering a portion of the local or home-based market. Why? If you become a household name in Nigeria alone, you are set. Case in point--D'Banj. It would be very interesting if some of these artists could actually push through and cater to their growing East African audience.

    Say, do you know how well Ghanaian Hiplife does in East Africa? Are Ghanaian Hip-hop stars making waves there as well?

    P.S-- I would absolutely love to learn Swahili. Maybe Flavor, D'Banj and some other stars could come together and organize a big concert for East Africa in Kenya. I am going to bet top dollar that this event would be sold out if it were to ever happen. And what else? Maybe they could sing one or two songs in Swahili, to send the vast crowds into sheer ecstasy.

  23. Thanks Godfather for the translation...very helpful. Now i can stop having arguments with my friends about what it all means. I'm East African too by the way, from Kenya, and this song STILL drives us nuts at parties! And the lyrics aren't even that vulgar...pretty mild compared to some things that i've heard even here in Kenya. Cheers!

  24. This is da only nigerian song I like, well nigerian music is not dominated in SA, but this 1 nailed it, even though ppl with no much interest on wathchin channel O or mtv do not know it, except those who hear it from nigerian stores in South africa. Just dat nigerians r so irritating here aaaaaah u just end up hatin everytin bout dem ges dey got gud music though flavour provd it, I wanna download da original version wher cn I go?

  25. maude mkhize2/03/2012 3:10 AM

    I'm inlove with Mr Flavor himself if it happens that he comes to durban ask him to halla @ me I have all his pics downloaded on my cell phone I'm a die hard Mr flavor Fan from S.A................I tried inviting him on Facebook but he didn't accept .....Thanx for the lyrics Godfather.....God Bless

  26. wallace john5/19/2012 10:59 AM

    hey men,this is a great revelation man,am greatful for bringing out the mischeviousness in this song.