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By Alex Perullo
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Indiana University Press, 2011

ISBN 978-0-253-22292-3

496 Pages

PURL 3.10 | Performance: Ndala Kasheba, “Kadi ya Njano” (Yellow Card)

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Media reference: page 122   

About this recording

 In his most famous song, Ndala Kasheba sings about returning from Zaïre in the 1980s to the news that he had died—invented, apparently, by a radio announcer during Kasheba's absence. When he returned, he was astonished at the extent the rumor had spread. Kasheba went to a local radio station and told listeners that he was still alive. He then composed "Yellow Card" to discuss rumors spread by an overzealous media.

The lyrics to this song are at times beautiful, but also confront the harsh realities of death. At one point Kasheba sings, "Even if I die, I will not cease living or being a part of this land / I will only go into my grave / Do not worry, your grave is also there." Although Tanzanian lyrics can be confrontational, the explicit way Kasheba evokes the future death of various media personalities is startling. Further, his poetic lyrics and mischievous delivery make the song one of his most exceptional works. Unfortunately, in 2004 Kasheba did die; he is buried in Kinondoni, Dar es Salaam. The fact that Alex Perullo writes about Kasheba's song posthumously would certainly make Kasheba smile, since it supports Kasheba's view that he would live on even after he was buried.

Ndala Kasheba,
"Kadi ya Njano"

Zamani, niliimba "Dunia Msongamano,"
Leo naimba, "dunia maajabu" eeh.

Miaka ya 80 walitangaza nimekufa,
Mwaka 2000, wamesema niko mahututi Kinshasa.

Nimeshazoea.
Imekuwa ni kawaida kukicha kusikia,
Wana maarufu wana matatizo, eeh.

Magonjwa yote ya dunia nimepachikwa mimi,
Wafurahi wao, wenye uhakika wa afya njema eeh,
Wataishi milele eeh.

Mtangazaji [Magazeti] hana kosa,
Ameyasikia mitaani kaona bora,
Awafahamisha ndugu, jamaa na marafiki
Habari bila kuthibitisha wapate kujua.
Sababu kimya kimezidi siku nyingi,
Kipenzi chao niko wapi eeh.

Wakishakutana kwenye makonteiner,
Vistoo na kwenye kiti moto, ajenda maisha ya watu.

Wakishakutana chini ya mwarubaini kwenye supu ya utumbo eeh,
Mazungumzo yote utumbo.

Fulani amekwisha si lolote si chochote,
Gari hana, mke kamkimbia kenda zake ulaya eeh,

Yote nakubali, namuachia mungu aliyeniumba yeye,
Anajua mwisho wa maisha yangu,

Kama nimezidi au nimecheza rafu,
Mungu ndiyo mwamuzi, atanipa kadi,
Yellow card, itakuwa ni onyo,
Kama ni nyekundu niondoke duniani,
Yote ni ya mungu eeh.

Jua linawaka nje, nimepiga tie na shati jeupe,
Natembea taratibu eeh,

Naogopa jasho,
Wao wanasema siku hizi siwezi kutembea
Nimechoka, eeh,

Eti jamaa yupo hoi, hamalizi mwaka anaondoka,
Hivyo tumpeleke, tumpeleke eeh.

Wanachangia harusi,
Mamilioni kwa ajili ya sherehe
Wajichane rosta shympeni, whisky na mvinyo iwe zungumzo jijini,

Watoto yatima, walemavu wasiojiweza wanasota mmlo mmoja hawapati

Mwenzao wanaumwa, wao wanacheka,
Eti alikuwa na maringa mwache akome,
Kuzika wanashindana kuchanga pesa,
Tiketi ya ndege inapatikane na haraka,
Wakazike kijijini wabaki mjini,
Sababu wakizika mjini, wataota jinamizi eeh,
Dunia [ni] maajabu,

Hata nikifa, sitamaliza vifo, wala sijazi ardhi,
Nitakwenda kwenye kaburi langu mwenyewe,
Usiwe na wasiwasi na wewe la kwako lipo,
Sababu na wewe pia ni marehemu mtarajiwa, linakusubiri,

Amekufa masia, wamekufa mitume na masultani,
Watawala wenye sifa na nguvu nyingi,
Sembuse mimi na wewe viumbe dhaifu,
Jamani tuhurumiane,
Dunia matatizo.

 

Ndala Kasheba
"Yellow Card"
Composed by Ndlala Kasheba

In the past, I sang "the World is Crowded,"
Today I sing that the world is strange, eh.

In the 1980s, they announced that I had died,
In 2000, they say that I am critically ill in Kinshasa.

I am already used to this.
It has become common to hear these things,
Famous people have problems, eh.

Every illness in the world has been inserted into me.
They are happy, those with knowledge of good health, eh
They will live forever, eh.

An announcer makes no mistakes,
He is heard throughout the streets as if well [healthy],
He teaches relatives, people, and friends
News without proving how they came to learn about it
The reason for silence grows for many days,
Where is your love, eh.

After they have already met at the containers [places to get food and drink]
Eating pork and discussing peoples lives.

After they have met with the soup of the stomach, eh,
All conversations are in the stomach.

This person has ceased having anything.
He doesn't have a car, his wife ran off to Europe, eh,

"Everything is fine, I left god," he who created him
He knows the end of my life
If I will continue or if I am playing rough,
God is the judge, he will give me a card,
Yellow card, it will be a warning,
If it is red, I will leave this world,
Everything is of god, eeh.

The sun rises outside, I put on a tie and a white shirt
I walk softly, eeh,

I am afraid of sweat,
They say these days that I cannot walk around
[that] I am tired, eeh,

"Isn't this person out of it [incapacitated], he won't finish this year
This is where we send him, send him eeh.

They share expenses for the wedding
Millions [of shillings] for a celebration
The have roasts, Champaign, whisky, and wine so that they can talk in the city

Orphaned, handicapped children search for a single meal and don't receive it

Among them are sick, the others laugh
Listen, he had an ego leave him be.
To bury they compete to contribute money,
My ticket comes quickly,
They bury in the village and remain in town
Because if they bury in the town, they will have nightmare eeh.
The world is strange,

Even if I die, I will not cease living or being a part of this land
I will only go into my grave
Do not worry, your grave is also there
Since you are also expected, it waits for you

Messiahs, prophets and sultans died
Strong and respected leaders
Not to mention you and I, feeble beings
We must sympathize with each other's plight
The world has problems

For other videos from this event, see PURLs 3.9, 5.3, 5.4, 6.1, 8.1, 8.2, 8.3, and A.3.