"Depi m Piti..." (English)

Frater Vameri


Depi m piti , m ap chante pou lwa yo . Bilolo !

If pa ti neg ki te montre m Chante it. (x 2 )

Depi nan vant manman m, gwo lwa m yo reklame mwen . Bilolo ! (x 2 )

If pa ti neg ki te montre m chante the

Adje , (ti nèg ) ki te montre m chante, msye / Bondje ! ”

(Source: https://ufdc.ufl.edu/AA00007593/00001 )

Above I reproduce a song collected by Benjamin Hebblethwaite and which we could translate like this (based on Hebblethwaite's translation to English):

Since I was little, I've been singing for the Lwas ! Bilolo !

It wasn't a little guy who showed me how to sing.

Since I was in my mother's womb, my great Lwas have claimed me. Bilolo !

It wasn't a little guy who showed me how to sing.

Oh Heavens, who showed me how to sing, sir/God!

This song, like most songs for the Lwas, is short and repetitive. It's a clever formula to ease the pace and so the community can learn the song quickly and never forget. However anyone who confuses this with a lack of sophistication or complexity will be dead wrong. In addition to beauty and rhythms, we need to consider readings beyond the obvious that can be made of songs.


This song that is transcribed, in particular, is of some direct understanding, but many present concepts of the Haitian cosmogony embedded in absolutely ordinary situations or in passages are almost absurd. The reading of these songs cannot be done looking for a material, sequential or even a linear narrative, as many will not present such elements. What we need to do is: we need to read the warning messages, teaching messages, codes, lessons and definitions that are passed through the verses. Of course, these readings when done by a foreigner become much more challenging.


Let's see the case of the song analyzed here. It is evident that it speaks of a blood relationship and one that it goes beyond the materiality of the world. The Lwas are already “manifesting” in the character's uterine life - taking him for themselves while still in their mother's womb. This establishes a relationship not only with these Lwas , but also with his own mother, who gives him blood, food and also the spirits. It is the lwas that are hereditary and that run within a family.


Furthermore, the song is about a strong connection between an unborn being and the spirits. This connection is manifested by the spontaneous capacity to praise the Lwas that the character presents. What would that be? A simple inspiration? Perhaps, but we can also consider that the Lwas teach him, in mysterious ways, and perhaps they have whispered in his ears still in the womb, or they do so every night while he sleeps.


It is possible to consider that the character in the song is a priest or at least someone very connected to Vodou . The last verse, which is more difficult to translate and contains several different meanings and translations, can be read as a non-conclusion – that is, as the character, still trying to understand the mystery (after all, who taught him to sing?) or like him reaching the conclusion that it was God who taught him the songs, thus concluding the narrative with a closure that sediments non-materiality. Perhaps this dubious construction in Kreyòl , in addition to being a challenge to the translator who writes you (who had the help of Dr. Hebblethwaite's English translation ), is, in fact, purposeful and leaves the interpretation to those who have ears to hear and eyes to see.

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