Malaika, a Swahili lullaby, on Throwback Thursday

In our third installment for our Black History Month Throwback Thursday series; we celebrate the beautiful Swahili Lullaby, Malaika.  

Miriam Makeba, one of the more famous musicians to cover Malaika. photo by Rob Mieremet
Miriam Makeba, one of the more famous musicians to cover Malaika. photo by Rob Mieremet

Kenyan Musician Fadhili William is most often attributed as the composer of Malaika in 1959, for White Spots Music. Others dispute this, but all agree that he was the first artist to release the song, which he did with his band, The Jambo Boys, around 1963.

Pete Seeger brought it to the US not long after, and it went on to be covered by artists like Harry Belafonte, Miriam Makemba, Angelique Kidjo, and was a hit in the early 80’s for the German group Boney M.

The song, a lilting, gentle tune most often used as a lullaby, is actually a lament. The singer has been “defeated by money” and cannot marry the girl he loves, Malaika (which translates to Angel in English).

Member Anna Stange covered the song for her album, Miss Anna’s Music Class, Vol. 2, you can listen to her version, and read the lyrics below.

Malaika, as covered by Anna Stange.

Malaika – Angel


Malaika, nakupenda Malaika.
Malaika, nakupenda Malaika.
Nami nifanyeje, kijana mwenzio,
Nashindwa na mali sina, we,
Ningekuoa Malaika.
Nashindwa na mali sina, we,
Ningekuoa Malaika.

Malaika, nakupenda Malaika. 
Malaika, nakupenda Malaika.
Nami nifanyeje, kijana mwenzio,
Nashindwa na mali sina, we,
Ningekuoa Malaika.
Nashindwa na mali sina, we,
Ningekuoa Malaika.

Kidege, hukuwaza kidege.
Kidege, hukuwaza kidege.
ningekuoa dada
ningekuoa mama 
Nami nifanyeje, kijana mwenzio,
Nashindwa na mali sina, we,
Ningekuoa Malaika.
Nashindwa na mali sina, we,
Ningekuoa Malaika.

Malaika, nakupenda Malaika. 
Malaika, nakupenda Malaika.
Nami nifanyeje, kijana mwenzio,
Nashindwa na mali sina, we,
Ningekuoa Malaika.
Nashindwa na mali sina, we,
Ningekuoa Malaika.


Angel, I love you Angel.
Angel, I love you Angel.
And me, what should I do, my love?
I don’t have any money,
(LITERALLY: I’m defeated by wealth, I don’t have any.)
I would marry you, Angel.
I don’t have any money,
I would marry you, Angel.

Angel, I love you Angel.
Angel, I love you Angel.
And me, what should I do, my love?
I don’t have any money,
(LITERALLY: I’m defeated by wealth, I don’t have any.)
I would marry you, Angel.
I don’t have any money,
I would marry you, Angel.

Little bird, I always dream of you, little bird,
Little bird, I always dream of you, little bird,
And me, what should I do, my love?
I don’t have any money,
I would marry you, Angel.
I don’t have any money,
I would marry you, Angel.

Angel, I love you Angel.
Angel, I love you Angel.
And me, what should I do, my love?
I don’t have any money,
(LITERALLY: I’m defeated by wealth, I don’t have any.)
I would marry you, Angel.
I don’t have any money,
I would marry you, Angel


5 comments

  1. a beautiful song, and beautiful singing, Anna!

  2. It is indeed a beautiful song …. glad to have the translation for added layers of understanding … and I love Anna’s voice too … so strong both in the Swahili and the English … seamless back and forth. Thank you, thank you!

    1. My pleasure! So glad you found it useful 🙂

  3. Hi! I’ve just discovered your blog – it’s amazaing 🙂
    I’ll definitely visit it more often!

    Matylda
    Piano lessons in Manchester

    1. Thanks! Be sure to subscribe so you can get automatic updates when we post something new.

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