Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Ashawo!

Thought I'd take things up a notch in terms of enthusiasm and fun. I've had this song running through my head since mid-December when I first heard it at a big Nigerian party in Accra. I especially love the little 'bomp ba domp' sound the singer makes, describing the ladies hips...

Apparently the name of this song means 'prostitute', which is not in itself a positive thing, but a friend led me to a write up recently that gave a much more interesting meaning (in a book review about a very interesting topic!):

"Ashawo is a Yoruba word that has found its way into the languages of the region. It has connotations of sex for sale, but also of independence, freedom from traditional ties and family obedience. An ashawo woman is a woman alone; under her own control, not the control of a man."

The song has been played in excess at every party this holiday season in Ghana - and I wait for it every time, to get up and shake my thang.



Thought I'd share it widely. It's not deep, not a classic, not a particularly well made piece of music, but IT's FUN!!! And I just KNOW Shiloh would have loved it. We'd have been watching him in dark shades, making up a very slick dance routine to it right now!

"Sawa sawa babeee" (my made up spelling for the Yoruba lyrics...)
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12 comments:

Miss Footloose said...

Oh, this was so much fun to watch and listen to, sitting here in snow covered West Virginia. Wish I were back in Ghana, dancing. Couldn't compete though with those girls -- either in moves or get-ups!

About Ghanaian females and independence, there's always been a streak of female independence in the culture. So many women having their own jobs, etc. I remember having talks with women saying they didn't need a husband. They could take care of themselves.

The pale observer said...

Funny how 'female power' is so caught up in this regard with prostitution...

But yes, they move!!! They inspire me as far as dancing goes :)

Land of shimp said...

That was fun! It took a little bit for me to begin to appreciate the song, it's energy isn't really in-your-face, it's subtle and carries you along until you're all caught up in it.

Way, way back in gender politics class we used to have HUGE arguments over prostitution. Some viewed it as being demeaning to women, without question, and without exception. I was always on the side that whereas it could be, it wasn't always.

After all, it is termed the oldest profession for a reason, and in times before it was a given that women would have rights, a woman -- sans pimp, of course -- who plied that trade was one of the few women who had dominion over her own body. Who made active choices about her own sexuality, the use she would put her sexuality to, and also not being defined by some standard of purity, in her own thinking.

That's not to romanticize prostitution, because the vast majority of it is controlled by men, or even women, who are dictating the treatment and choices. Plus there can be severe abuse.

Still, I think you can get a good sense of a person from how they react to the concept and reality of prostitution. People who think in absolutes tend to judge women (and men) who engage in prostitution.

But throughout history perceptions about prostitution in any culture are very telling about the structure of that society...the choices available, etc.

LMJ said...

This IS fun song! I was moving my head to the beat as I read along. =)

Thanks for sharing. I love to read about other cultures and their music!

The pale observer said...

LoS - yes, the beginning of the song doesn't catch you right away, but trust me, on a dancefloor, with the enthusiasm of the crowd, and after hearing it a few times, it is addictive :)

I think the prostitution issue could warrant further posting. Did you read the book review I linked to? It is quite an interesting overview of a book written by a British man about a poor Ghanaian woman who was essentially a prostitute in the region in the 70's and 80's.

LMJ - glad you enjoyed! Will try to share more soon :)

Maya Mame said...

Come to this side of Labone and you'll hear it several times a day (sometimes many times in an hour!) and after ten weeks, I'm still not bored of it!

The pale observer said...

See! It's just one of those addictive songs! BTW What spot is so loud in Labone?

Maya Mame said...

After One Spot, on the Labone Coffee Shop road. They're open all day, every day from 1pm to 1 am AT LEAST, *sigh*. (Can you tell I love my neighbour?).

blunt edges said...

fun song that! :D

kys said...

There is nothing wrong with fun!

Thanks for stopping by for some Stir Fry. I'm stalking, er, following you now.

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