Lullaby – Yoruba

Ronke nko O

O wa nle O

O sun jaburata si yara O

Ta lo ba wi

Ta lo na O

How is Ronke doing?

She is at home.

She is deeply asleep in the bedroom.

Who reprimanded her?

Who Spanked her?

This is a Yoruba lullaby that is sung to a crying child.  Abiola heard the song as a young child.  She is the oldest of six children, and she often heard the lullaby sung to her younger siblings.  She also has four children who she sang the song to when they were young.

The song asks about the condition of the crying child.  In this example the child’s name is Ronke.  The first line asks what is wrong with the child.  A more representative English translation is : What about Ronke? The next two lines state what the child should be doing.  The singer states that the child is at home in a deep sleep, which is the ultimate goal of the lullaby.  As there is typically no known reason for the child to be crying, the singer asks if anyone chastised the child or spanked her to make her cry.

The song has proven to be very effective.  Abiola not only remembers hearing it sung by many women as a child, and singing it to her own children as well as her youngest sister, but the song is still sung in her family, even by those who do not speak any other words of Yoruba.

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