world music

'Bata Mi A Dun Ko Ko Ka': singing songs from Africa and the Caribbean

What a fabulous October we've had at Bangers & Smash singing songs from Africa and the Caribbean in celebration of Black History Month!

Photo by {artist}/{collectionName} / Getty Images

We've started our sessions with a song we learned last month: Fingers Like To Wiggle Waggle. This month, we've chosen a different body part to wiggle waggle each week and the children have had fun wiggling their toes, bottoms and noses.

We've also continued singing the Dipidu song, concentrating on the second line in which the children insert their own names in place of 'dipidu'. As part of this activity, Cathy has passed an African shaker around the circle and encouraged the children to shake it and say their names. Older children have been able to shake once for each syllable of their name (for example, Femi would shake twice [Fe-mi] and Annabel three times [Ann-a-bel]) while younger children have practised playing the shaker freestyle while saying their names at the same time. This allows the children to work on their fine motor skills while linking movement to sound and, in the case of the older children, rhythm – a great introduction to the art of multi-tasking!

Cathy has gone on to introduce the theme of Black History Month by asking the children to stroke their skin:

'What does it feel like?'

  • 'My skin feels soft'

  • 'I like to stroke my hand'

What colour is it?'

  • 'My skin is brown like chocolate ice cream'

  • 'My skin is pink and white like strawberry milkshake'

Cathy has talked about how people with brown and black skin come from the continent of Africa and now live all over the world. She has asked the children to tap word rhythms based on the names of vegetables and fruit from Africa and the Caribbean (plantain, cassava, butternut squash / ackee, banana, pomegranate). With the help of Drums for Schools' fantastic Nursery Rhythm Kit (read Cathy's review on the Music Education UK website here), the children have been able to tap, bang, shake and scrape their way through a variety of world music instruments, including hand drums, agogo bells, tiktoks, frog scrapers and more!

Cathy has gone on to ask if black staff members would like to share songs from their childhoods and heritages and, as always, they have come up trumps with a wonderful selection of songs from Africa and the Caribbean.

Special thanks to the following:

  • Vinette for Evenin' Time, a song by Jamaican poet, folklorist, writer and educator, Louise Bennett

  • Israel for Mango Time, a Jamaican folk song about making the best of the mango crop

  • Sharon for two popular Jamaican songs, Banana Boat Song and Jamaican Farewell

  • Tolu and Taiwo for Bata Mi A Dun Ko Ko Ka, a Nigerian song in Yoruba about the benefits of study ('If I study hard, I will wear high heels')

  • Juliet for O Kereke, a Nigerian song in Igbo in which the children sit in a line with their legs outstretched and bounce a rolled-up cloth from one end to the other

  • Jane for Kedu Onye Ga Abu Ojim, a Nigerian song and circle dance in Igbo about finding a friend

  • Nkechi for Onye Ga Agba Agwu, a Nigerian song and circle dance in Igbo about dancing

  • Ann-Marie for A Te Wa, a Sierra Leonean song and circle dance in Creole about dancing

In addition, both children and staff have enjoyed dancing to two more Jamaican songs in the Mento tradition:

  • Peanut Vendor by the Kew Park Mento Band

  • Slide Mongoose by the Blue Glaze Mento Band

And finally, since we're dancing, we hope you enjoy this video of Oliver Mobeli from Central African Republic!