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17:08 Apr 2, 2007
Yoruba to English translations [PRO] Art/Literary - Music
Yoruba term or phrase:fanga
The word is the name of a song, rhythm and dance from Liberia, according to American anthropologist and dancer Pearl Primus, who popularised it in the USA. The words of the first verse are "Fanga (or funga) alafia, ase ase." Alafia, meaning peace, is a Yoruba greeting, meaning I hope you're well and ase is the spirit that is in all things, so I take it to be a blessing on the person's spirit, and Fanga might be the category of person being addressed? The song is sung to welcome visitors, before a meal is served.
As the song is from Liberia but sung in Yoruba, I think it may have been brought there by freed American slaves returning after emancipation, so it might be an American creole of Yoruba or perhaps a dialect spoken in Liberia? Or perhaps it's from another West African language altogether? Many people know the song but I have yet to meet anyone (including Yoruba speakers from Nigeria) who can tell me what Fanga means. I would be very grateful for any ideas. Thank you.
Thank you for your suggestion, Fabio. I don't feel that this Bambara verb, meaning to catch, is likely to be the answer, as it wouldn't make syntactical sense.
The wiktionary reference merely reiterates what is commonly believed to be the purpose of the rhythm (a rhythm of welcome), but doesn't shed any light on the meaning of the word which gives the rhyth its title.