Always such a pleasure to be with you and your kids, singing such life-affirming music in class each week. Usually we focus our attention over the course of a week on a particular country, one of several we visit during our several months exploring music from a geographic region of the world, or musical theme among many that we approach in our broader theme-based sets of curriculum. Between each of our three month seasons we allow ourselves a week to pause, step back, and, rather than envision our week's lesson as just a small part of a whole, just sing for the sake of singing. This week in class we enjoy songs from Africa, Southeast Asia and India – a collective work song from Mozambique, a Ugandan chant demanding snacks, a playful tune about a Cambodian bird, a Hindi holiday song, a Tagalog about a butterfly . . . Have a grand time in class this week. Next week we embark on another three month journey.
We sing "We Are Happy" to open every All Around This World class. This week we greet each other in Tsonga -- "Avuxeni "
"A Hiyeni" is a song sung in a "women's village" in Mozambique in the 1970s, encouraging the women, who had built "Communal Village O.M.M." together, to keep with one another to become independent from Portugal. (More.)
We sing "We Are Happy" to open every All Around This World class. This week we greet each other in Tsonga -- "Avuxeni !"
“Diwali Aayee" is a song about the Hindu "Festival of Lights,” an awesome holiday full of food, fireworks and fun. Everyone loves it, hence the chorus: "Diwali aayee, Diwali aayee, everybody loves Diwali...." (More.)
A LITTLE MORE:
This week in class we sing one of our favorite songs, “A Hiyeni,” a hopeful, collective-organizing, “let’s-work-together,” Mozambican independence-era “African greeting song.” I often sing “A Hiyeni” as a way to gather a crowd when we start a class or concert. The Sand Family Band almost always starts our shows with the song because it's a guaranteed, crowd-pleasing sing-along.
In 1975, Mozambique became independent after five centuries of Portuguese rule. During the war for independence, which lasted for 14 years, the FRELIMO (Front for the Liberation of Mozambique) established communal villages in the areas they had wrested from Portuguese control. In these villages Mozambicans were able to revive their traditional culture which the Portuguese had either demeaned as “uncivilized” or banned.
Let's listen to a few versions of “A Hiyeni.” First, an original version of “A Hiyeni,” found on the Smithsonian Folkways Music of Mozambique, is a celebration of the communal villages. Recorded in the late ’70s in Communal Village O.M.M. near XAI-XAI (pronounced “shy shy”) in the province of Gaza, the singers are members of the Mozambican Woman’s organization, a national women’s liberation group, who were among the 5,000 who lived in the village at the time. According to the Folkways researchers, every Sunday after the villages communal meeting residents would enjoy a “Festa de Cultura,” in which performers from each of the village’s four areas would lead their follows in singing and dancing until dark.
Next, let's listen to the version I adapted and recorded for All Around This World's North and East Africa CD. Most of the vocalists you're hearing are from Philadelphia's extraordinary Liberian Women's Chorus for Change. We recorded at Philadelphia's Rittenhouse Sound Works.
Here is a version by the Sand Family, which we sang on our very first summer tour, the summer of 2016, introducing ourselves and our music to the fine, friendly people of Kirkland, Washington.
Last but not least, “A Hiyeni” as performed by the All Around This World Global Orchestra, the 13-piece “big band” we collected to celebrate International Make Your Own Instrument Day way back in 2014. I'm sure there will be more versions of “A Hiyeni” to come.