Asa’s “Bamidele”: A Narrative Lyrical AnalysisPosted on Wednesday, February 9th, 2011 at 1:21 PM
By Gbenga Awomodu
When Bukola Elemide (a.k.a. Asa) released the song, Bamidele, which would become a bonus track on Beautiful Imperfection, her 13-track album, I wonder where in the world I was. I never heard of the song until I stumbled on the MP3 last week and I must have listened to it well over a hundred times by now. Truth is: I love really good songs (and who doesn’t?), but it’s been a while since I fell totally in love (obsessed, even) with a song to this magnitude. In this masterpiece, Asa has proven herself again as a force to be reckoned with in the world of music!
Bamidele is a piano-and-other-strings-driven, jaunty jazz ballad that satirizes a recurrent story of love, lies, betrayal, and family values, from the point of view of an impressionable and naïve young girl; in this case, she could easily be a secondary school girl from the inner city of Ibadan, Oyo State, as Asa deftly infuses the native dialect, mimicking the poor girl. Asa invokes feelings of pain, frustration and regret as she repeats the villain’s name – Akinyele, a native Oyo name. I particularly find the chord progression (7-3-6-2-5-1) at the refrain quite alluring and soul piercing even as she sings on the pentatonic scale. This song, like any other work of art, is subject to a variety of interpretations, so here goes my lyrical analysis:
Bi’nu e ba dun, bi’nu e o ba dun (Whether you are happy, or not)
On’ lati bami dele (You need to follow me home)
Bi o ba fe, bi o ba ko ye (Whether you like it, or you refuse to)
On’ lati bami dele ba’mi (You must follow me to my father’s house)
Akinyele wants to marry wife/ He don’t want to pay some bride price/ You better find it
Akinyele omo Jinadu (Akinyele Jinadu)
He don’t want to pay some bride price/ You better find it
Akinyele o… (x8)
So this girl, in her late teens (perhaps, earlier twenties), is wooed tirelessly and strategically by one young lawyer from out of town. She initially refuses, but soon finds herself having strong feelings for this young ‘educated’ man. She is impressed by his diction, his comportment, and even with the fact that he tells her he’s a Law graduate from the University of Ibadan. Out of naivety and inexperience, she soon agrees to his proposition. Some weeks into the ‘secret’ affair, he begins to pester her…
Otutu mu mi/ eyin nro mi o (Cold has taken hold of me/my back aches)
Wa bamidele ba’mi (Come, follow me to my father’s house)
Sebi the same thing lo so fun mi l’ana (Wasn’t it the same thing you told me yesterday?)
Mo tun de/ wa tele mi mo’le (I’m here again/ come, follow me home!)
Lawyer alagidi (Stubborn Lawyer!)
First class liar
Alakori sanwo k’o to j’obe (Headstrong fellow, pay before you ‘chop’ soup)
Iya mi l’o bi mi, l’o bi mi (My mother gave birth to me)
Baba mi lo to mi (My father trained me)
Mi o ki’n s’omo registry (I’m not for registry wedding)
Alakowe lawyer (learned lawyer)
Akinyele o….. (x8)
Eventually, she gives in to his persistent demands for sex, and she ends up pregnant. Every night, Akinyele’s on her mind as she endures the inconveniences of the pregnancy all alone. She’s probably living with an aunt now or she endures her parents’ vituperations and constant demand for the man responsible for the pregnancy to come claim her and the unborn. She cannot abort because she still has her family values intact. She wants him to put a ring on it! Yes, she already made a grave mistake by going to bed with him, but she still loves him and wants him to make the relationship formal. In the darkness of her room at night, she longs for the strong arms of her man around her; those soothing words to encourage her. She feels cold and her back aches – she’s heavy, but Akinyele has refused to be ‘the man’.
Every day, she goes to his window and knocks at his door, but he repeats the same excuse and empty promises. He tries to shirk his responsibility of arranging for the proper traditional wedding, but attempts to sell her the ‘cheap’ option of a court wedding. She can only but sob into the early morning, hanging to the refrain “Akinyele o!”.
Lawyer, alagidi (Stubborn Lawyer!)
First class liar
Alakori sanwo (Stupid fellow, pay up!)
K’oma mumu, K’oma jeun, K’oma s’omo ol’omo (You indulge in drinking, feeding and flirting)
Akinyele o….. (x8) [x2]
She is now fed up of Akinyele because he seems to be unstable as the sea tides. He continues to prove a very difficult riddle to solve. She still finds no other way to deal with this irony of a man than to call him names and wail his name. Unfortunately, Akinyele increasingly indulges in cheap liquor, gluttony and even begins to flirt with other girls in the neighbourhood. He wouldn’t bulge, so our narrator continues to bite her fingers, tears all over her face.
Then a skittish and gallop-y finale draws the curtain on an altogether very wholesome work. Brilliant work of art!
Listen to “Bamidele” by Asa
Photo Credit: Asa (c) Nicolas Esposito http://bit.ly/whycantweacoustic
Gbenga Awomodu is an Editorial Assistant at Bainstone Ltd./BellaNaija.com. When he is not reading or writing, Gbenga is listening to good music or playing the piano. He believes in the inspirational power of words and pictures, which he explores in helping to make the world a better place. He blogs at Gbenga’s Notebook (www.gbengaawomodu.com).