It was inevitable that I would eventually blog about (my love for) this song. As at the last count on my iTunes, I have listened to it for a total 293 number of times in less than three days, after songs by Chris de burgh, Fela Kuti and Michael Jackson. That is no mean feat. I usually begin playing it in the morning, and keep it on reply throughout my work on the laptop till evening when I sleep, and then leave it on to lull me to sleep as well. This is only surprising if you take into account that I did not like the song at all the first time I heard it. I thought it was too slow. In hindsight, I now think that I it was who was too slow.
The song by two unique Nigerian singers 9ice and Asa is a classic. It is a solemn lamentation of the state of things. But where the song derives its greatness is not even in its political preoccupation but in its artistic triumph. Poetry of words and the rhythm of proverbs in the Yoruba culture is already a given. But merging it with the art of rhyming, which I believe is a fairly Western art concept, and coming out with a tune which is both melodious and deep is a great endeavour indeed. I will not even try to play this in class to my students because the poetry it contains is above them. (Heck, it’s above many of the people I know.) The real beauty of the track however is in the words, the message, the proverbs, and not in the perhaps equally moving rhythm of the instruments. For non-Yoruba speakers, I give you only the music. 🙂 Enjoy.
NOTE: The title pete-pete is taken from a Yoruba proverb that says that “As soon as pete-pete (a muddy water/liquid dirt) is beaten deliberately with a rod, you can never control whose clothes it soils.”