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Translations of the Ewe text

Author: Kofi Amenyo Posted: 2011-01-13 00:21:52
I am providing rough translations here for non-Ewe readers who may absolutely want to know what the Ewe means. I have not provided instant translations in the text because
1. You do not often need to know the meanings of the Ewe to get along with the piece,
2. Instant translations will spoil the rhythm of the reading and make the text look clumsy and,
3. The translations will be redundant for Ewes readers who, I guess, will, be the ones most interested in the article.

1. Aseye ko matso nawo nye Mawu – I will rejoice (praise) in you, my God
2. Metsor nye lolo na wo – I have given you my love
3. Efoye fia safie nofe mu – Efo, show me where you have placed the key. (The song continues with Efo saying the key is on top of the wall. And it just gets worse from there...)
4. Denyigba lolo akpe na wo – Thank you, beloved homeland
5. Amegbetor deke menya etso me o – No one knows tomorrow
6. Mozolawo mienye le afi – We are on a journey here (on this earth)
7. Nu nyui la ke – The good day has dawned
8. Mawu fe amenuveve – The grace of God (God’s grace)
9. Wor nu nam loo, menye de ma ku hafi o, - Do something for me now, not after I am dead. Do something “for” me and “to” me are expressed by the same words in Ewe – and therein lies the riddle of the double meaning...
10. Lolo vava de le menye, matsor na wo o, - There is a certain real love in me which I will give you.
11. Davadedziawo – that should absolutely not be translated. There are young ones among us. Non-Ewe readers may, please, ask their Ewe friends for a “friendly” translation
12. The Twi words of Agboti Yao’s song require no translation since Twi is the unofficial official language of our country...

The concluding lyrics come from a classic borborbor tune known to all Ewes. There is a certain magic in the lines that will be LOST IN TRANSLATION. I choose not to translate this – lol, lol...


Author: LONTO-BOY Posted: 2011-01-13 00:50:41
As a non-Ewe, I happened to have so many Ewe friends and this piece reminds me of my visit to Kpando-Sovie some years ago. Give me Borborbor any time. I love it!


Author: Frank Mensah, Timkobo No. 2 Posted: 2011-01-13 02:35:24
First, let me congratulate you for the idea of putting this together, although it looks pretty much like excerpts from your dissertation. I am going to treat it as such and draw a number of red lines through this so you can resubmit. 1. You failed to properly trace the history of the music you now call Borborbor. There has never been any music called Boborbor prior to Kwame Nkrumah's visit to Kpando. This is not to say that the music never existed. The original name was AKPESE. This music was played (and is still being played)by the people of Benin, Togo and what is now being called Ewedome (of Eastern Ghana). Among the Ewedome people, Akpese music was played played in village and hamlet. It was, probably, the only form of entertainment after the hard days work on the farm and was also played at funerals. It was also the focal point for dating in those days. Boborbor was only the name of an Akpese group in Kpando that played the music. The music was popularized across the country after the visit of the 1st President, Kwame Nkrumah. This explains why the people of Togo and Benin still call it Akpese (NOT Borborbor). 2. Akpese did not evolve from Agbadza or any other music and did not come about as a result of "watering down of culture" of the Ewedome people. Ewedome people never played Agbadza, and there is no form of it in Ewedomeland; they are just learning to play it and dance to it. Get your Anlo friends to understand this. On the lighter side, dancing Agbadza is better and cheaper than going to the gym. 3. You talked about the use of red and black hankerchiefs as ugly. That's an ugly, ignorant and dirty statement. I cross that out in black ink. Red and white hankerchiefs are used ONLY at funerals, some of the even more popular places the music is played. Remember there are more funerals than festivals in every village in Ghana, and television, videos and cellphones have taken over the evening entertainment slots. Check this out next time. I guess you did not grow up in any Ewedome village. And don't tell an Ashanti woman her red/black headgear is ugly. Where am I? 4. Hey, trumpets are also bugles. It's only a incidence of modernization (some music historian correct me). 5.Here goes your misnomer again! Agboti Yao's twi songs are only highlife and Reggae tunes, sang by an Eweman (a Togolese); period. None of his Twi songs has a touch of Akpese (or Borborbor, if you like) and I don't see the relevance here. Crossed out. 6. As for your Hip hop Borborbor, I don't think you know what you're talking about. I hope you don't start calling Ayigbe Edem's songs Hip hop Borborbor because they are sung in Ewe; I'll break your neck. Okay for now. Rewrite and resubmit.

So Refreshing

Author: Edem Posted: 2011-01-13 02:37:47
Kofi Amenyo, the tears blinded my eyes when as I read your piece. It sure sent me down memory lane. Hmm those were the good old days!. I am an Anlo but grew up in Ewedome and my love for the borborbor is unparalleled not even by yours; Mr Kofi Amenyo. I have followed it all over the place and sampled almost all the varieties there are; you name it Klave, Hordzo, Takla, Taviefe, Matse, Lume, Dodome, Dzolo, Saviefe, Anfoeta, Hlenfi Goviefe Todzi,Sovie through the Nyagbo's(yes they do borborbor too), Anfoga, Kpando, Hohoe, all the way to Gledi and oh give me some music!!!
And oh Fo Kofi you left out some all time good ones like
Manor efe dusime
Fo Yao le afide da
Yor dor nam, ne me haya la
Do abor de dzi

and the list goes on on on.

Thank you for giving the opportunity to relive my days of old all over again.

Such a Joy, Kofi!

Author: Daniel K. Pryce Posted: 2011-01-13 03:48:51

This is a beautiful piece that reminds us that you can take us away from Ewe traditions and Eweland – and Ghana, for that matter – but you cannot take Ewe traditions and Eweland out of us: the people and their customs are like conjoined twins! In fact, I was horripilating while reading your piece, because it seemed as though I was right there, next to a Borborbor ensemble! Suddenly, I could hear the staccato sounds of the castanets, followed by the rhythmic vibrations of the various drums – small and large – until the aggregation of the sounds reached the nerve centers of my brain, producing a sort of algorithmic cadence that may defy even the smartest mathematicians! I had to pinch myself that, alas, I was in the office and had to get back to work!

So, Francis Nuatro was the godfather of Borborbor music? Very interesting. Of course, I can understand why Kwame Nkrumah will be mesmerized by such a music genre, for, as you rightly stated, Borborbor music is no “spectator event.” The excitement that sweeps through the core of the listener and forces him/her to begin the very natural croons, gyrations, pantomimes and genuflections that such unique music engenders is akin to the mesmerization that soccer lovers endure when they find themselves kicking out, albeit unintentionally, while watching two teams do battle.

Certainly, the etymology of Borborbor cannot be divorced from the energy-sapping dance moves that are required to showcase one’s knowledge and love of the genre. Bending, bending, bending until the body can no longer bend itself is a necessary dance move in a Borborbor routine. Unquestionably, this dance pattern is no easy task, quickly eliminating anyone with a history of spinal/back problems from fully participating in it. And, yes, it is the norm to see the dancers waving nothing but white handkerchiefs, as other cloth colors may be unacceptable to the discerning participants and observers.

And the songs … Aseye ko matso nawo nye Mawu (I will do nothing but praise the Lord) … Metsor nye lolo na wo (I give you all my love) … Amegbetor deke menya etso me o (no one can predict the future) … Mozolawo mienye le afi (we are sojourners on earth) … Mawu fe amenuveve (the grace of God) … are replete with lyrics that tie the listener to the Motherland – leading to an inexplicable titillation that only a son or daughter of the soil may understand!

And finally, those age-old stanzas in that well-known song in your last paragraph!

Gbesigbe ma ku la nye kple woe ayi
The day that I die I will go with you

Ava do yodo nu la to
As we arrive at the edge of the grave

Afima lolo he de nyuie
That is where love will say goodbye/ goodbye, my love

Loloto va dom da a a a
My lover, please wish me farewell … chorus

Hosiana, mega tsi dzi o o o o
Hosanna, do not be anxious …

Home sweet home

Author: Paul Kpatakpa Posted: 2011-01-13 04:15:25
Brother Kofi, thank you so much for this wonderful article. I was happy and sad at the same time. Happy because at least there is one person who loves borborbor with me. I am sad because I cold not get any borborbor CD anywhere to purchase. Aoh, how I miss home, especially on festive occasions! Thanks Efo Kofi.


Author: Fo KUMA Posted: 2011-01-13 06:05:19
Kofi well-done(woe wodo looooo)


Author: Akadu Mensema Posted: 2011-01-13 07:01:55

Thanks a lot for this brilliant insights! Sadly, as you note the elderly, the repository of such performace and knowledge are dying off. Our rich culture meanwhile has been taken over by Rap music and the irony is that every Ghanaian musician wants to be a 50 Cents and the whole Ghana is drowning in the music of foreigners. Go to Ghana and listen to radio and hear all these foreign music forms. Sad it is. Like you coming here has more than anything else helped me to appreciate my Ghanaianess!


Author: Akafia Posted: 2011-01-13 07:22:15

Kpando forever

Author: Linda Van Herck Posted: 2011-01-13 07:25:12
I am a Belgian, married to an Ewe. When we are in Kpando; our home in Ghana, borborbor is part of our daily life. For me, borborbor equals joy.
It saddens me though to see that some Ghanaians abroad don't see the value of their cultural inheritance. That's why I was happy to see that, in Kpando, borborbor is booming again, with wonderful teachers that motivate the young.
The music we heard from the brass band group of Mr Cosmos, Adzakodzo, was so uplifting that it can be a hit abroad.
Over the last five years, more than 50 students have gone to Kpando, including the head of department of music of one of our most important teacher training colleges.
They were all taken by the strength of the music.
Kpando rules!

Borborbor lives forever!

Author: My Fatherland Posted: 2011-01-13 09:18:44
Thanks for your contribution to sell our beloved borborbor music. the music at times bring tears to my eyes especially when favourite songs of my departed mother are played. Yet I will continue to love borborbor forever. Give me borborbor anytime of the day especially when driving on my way back to my hometown! Thank you Efo Kofi.


Author: LARRY, NEW YORK Posted: 2011-01-13 09:21:44


Author: FOYOOSIS Posted: 2011-01-13 10:15:24
AMEGA Amenyo,
From Gambaga to Accra,i heard them shouting,Aflao,flao,Akatsi abor,abor,Ho,ho,Kpando,ando,Hohoe,ohoe,Anfoega,foega,Alavanyo,vanyoo vanyoo and it was BORBORBOR all the way.Hmmmm,can you imagine the journey from SAVIE TULA DABALA-JUNCTION to ADAKLU just for the love of Borborbor?Really,a dance for all,also when it comes to courtship for the first time, he;Hahahaha,akpe na wo loooo.!!!!!

Re: Borborbor – the quintessential Ewedome dance a

Author: Joe K Posted: 2011-01-13 10:40:30
I have known Borborbor all my life but I can't help reading this piece to the very end! A great work indeed. Let's have more of educative articles like this. Akpe Fo Kofi.


Author: agbeko amatu Posted: 2011-01-13 10:48:07
good article my brother

Kofi keep it up.

Author: Kwasi Posted: 2011-01-13 12:39:49
Such write ups will undoubtedly soothe the tempers. More of such please. By the way is Kofi Amenyo a dondologist?
Keep it up!

Thanks,Amenyo !

Author: NYIM-ASARE Posted: 2011-01-13 13:46:21
Thisis a nice piece.What a perfect display of the rich Ghanaian culture to the world.
I really do like that kinna music,especially the rythm,but too bad,home boy just can;t dance so i just listens to it and tap my feet to the rythm!


Author: kofi small Posted: 2011-01-13 14:07:15
Thanks for your article, i have been in Europe for a long while and i have so much missed this borborbor groups and their wonderful songs,

Re-Ewedome dance.

Author: Richard Aniwah Posted: 2011-01-13 14:20:25
Thanks for your interesting piece.Accounts of Mr Nuatros' achievements cannot be complete without mention of Alavanyo where he picked up the rythm from what we call 'tu dzi' I know he stayed with my parents as a young man. He went back to Kpando just before Ghanas independence and formed his group and called it Borbobor.Thanks. Mine is just to give a little insight.


Author: TROUBLE-MAKER Posted: 2011-01-13 15:22:16
Not even the harden Ewe basher,Ekow Koomson could use his filthy language on this one.
A vey well researched article from Kofi Amenyo. A job well done,Sir.


Author: Ama Posted: 2011-01-13 17:24:48
For more ewe news, borbobor songs,tsagbekor and others visit One of the best radio stations.

Borborbor Music on

Author: Jojo Posted: 2011-01-15 09:40:18 plays borborbor music every Friday. You may want to tune in and enjoy it. The author needs to give credit to Wofa Atta who first posted article of the same contents. Jojo, PA

Borborbor and Ewedome

Author: Suzy Posted: 2011-06-17 16:24:02
This is excellent great job


Author: bawah Posted: 2012-07-14 10:15:11
Please kindly post the picture of Maestro Nuatro on the NET.He deserves it.
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