“Ayeko, Ayeko”

by

Richie Stearns and Rosie Newton play “Iko, Iko”: 

According to linguist Geoffrey D. Kimball, the lyrics of the song are derived in part from Mobilian Jargon, an extinct Native American trade language consisting mostly of Choctaw and Chickasaw words and once used by Southeastern Indians, African Americans, and European settlers and their descendants in the Gulf Coast Region. In Mobilian Jargon, čokəma fehna (interpreted as “jockomo feeno”) was a commonly used phrase, meaning “very good.”

Louisiana creole lingua specialists believe now that the words originated as:

Ena! Ena!
Akout, Akout an deye
Chaque amoor fi nou wa na né
Chaque amoor fi na né

In English, this equates to:

Hey now! Hey now!
Listen, listen at the back
All the love made our king be born
All the love made it happen.

In a 2009 Offbeat article, however, the Ghanaian social linguist Dr. Evershed Amuzu said the chorus was “definitely West African,” reflecting West African tonal patterns. The article also notes that the phrase ayeko—often doubled as ayeko, ayeko—is a popular chant meaning “well done, or congratulations” among the Akan and Ewe people in modern-day Togo, Ghana, and Benin. 

Both groups were heavily traded during the slave trade, often to Haiti, which served as a way station for Louisiana. (Ewes in particular are credited with bringing West African cultural influences like Voudou rites from West Africa to Haiti and on to New Orleans.)

(edited from http://en.wikipedia.org)

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