Is “Agolo” by Angelique Kidjo a Yoruba Song?

No, she’s not speaking Yoruba in the song, it’s Fon gbe, but the Fon people of Benin are of Yoruba descent, so any Yoruba person would understand the lyrics. “Igbadoun foun ayé”, for instance, sounds a lot like “ìgbádùn fún ayé”, which transliterates to “enjoyment for the world”.

This video used to scare me as a kid, I knew there was something different about it and I was right; it’s a beautiful, rich, deity song.

“Ago lo” in Fon language means “move out/make room/excuse” and it is used to welcome/announce the descension of a voodoo spirit. It is not “agolo” as in “tin”. If you know what “ago ya” is in Yoruba, it’s similar. The song is a celebration of Mother Earth. It is a song of hope and a call to the good powers of nature; a call to Aidahouédo, the great rainbow loa/snake, the messenger of love and tenderness. Ayida Wedo [same spirit, different spelling, Yoruba people should know what it means now- something like “the one who transforms/turns into something else to (or ‘so she can’) swim in the river”] was highly honoured in this video, and the dances you see are sacred, spiritual, Yoruba/Fon dances.

Morio orio 
Ola djou monké n’lo (3x)
Ola djou monké
Ola djou monké n’lo
[Benin deity chant/prayer. I don’t know what it means, but I’m pretty sure ‘Olajumoke nlo’ is wrong. Olajumoke nlo ibo? Olajumoke isn’t going anywhere.]

Eman tché foya lénin [don’t be afraid today/now]
Ifé foun gbogbo ayé [love be to the world]
Eman tché gbagbé ifé [don’t forget love]
Ifé foun ilé baba wa [love for our Fatherland]
Ifé ayé ilé [love be to the world]
Igbadoun foun ayé [enjoyment be to the world]

Agolo agolo agolo agolo (*welcoming/praying to the spirit* )
“Agolo”, Angélique Kidjo, 1994

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