Thursday, June 22, 2006

Shauri Yako

Shauri Yako (Its Your Problem/Matter/Affair) is the title of a massive hit of the early eighties in Central and East Africa. The original version was recorded by Nguashi N'Timbo and L'Orchestre Festival du Zaire. Nguashi moved to Nairobi following a number of other Zairian bands looking for work due to an abundance of bands (and a lack of work) in Zaire. These bands, Orchestra Super Mazembe, Orchestra Makassy, Orchestra Super Matimila, Orchestra Marquis Original and many others, adapted to the club scenes in Nairobi, Kampala and dar Es Salaam and picked up a large following. The music of these bands took a new direction and picked up currents from Benga guitarists, Taraab vocalists and other local styles. Shauri Yako was also covered by Orchestra Super Mazembe and Mbilia Bel.

One version of the song that I am not able to provide today is the one I requested of the Lubambashi All Stars during their tennancy at the Quirinale Hotel, Hillbrow, Johannesburg during 1991-92. The song is guaranteed to numb your heat and soul into a trance whilst dancing away in the African night. It also packs the dancefloor everywhere I've played it.

And here courtesy of Steve Mugiri, who has an excellent blog are the lyrics of this classic (thanks also to Zim Bida!)

Orchestra Super Mazembe - Shauri Yako
This music is poetry so a lot is lost in translation. If I were a poet, I might be able to do something that begins to do justice to the lyrics in this but sadly, all I can do is do a literal translation. "Shauri yako" here translates to a combination of "its your problem/issue, deal with it" and "good riddance", in the translation, I will just put "its your problem". As with all good rumba, the song has a great story which boils down to a man who is telling his lady/(wife? named Zena Fatou) that if she cannot accept him as he is then, poor and unable to keep her in the sytle that she expects then its time to head for the hills and be gone. I need to point out that the pronunciation is a little different from the Swahili pronunciation that I am used to, this is usually an issue with Kenyan vs. Tanzanian usage: the words are the same but the pronunciation (and in some minor cases, word usage) is different. An analogy is British vs. American English. Thanks to this, I might have gotten some (minor) details wrong.

Nilikueleza hata mama, (How do I explain this to you my lady)
Fatou, wangu mama (*2 Fatou, my lady)
Mapenzie ya kwetu (This love of ours)
haita tawi hata mama (*2 will not survive much longer my lady)
Tabia yako na yangu (Your character and mine)
haisikilizani (*2 do not 'listen' to each other (or, alternatively, "are incompatible"))
Unaona (You need to understand)
unaona sasa we mama (you need to understand My lady)
Unapenda kuvaa (You like to dress well)
Mimi sina namna Fatou we (I have no way to support that)
Unapenda kula vizuri (You like to dine well)
Mimi sina pesa oh Fatou we (I have no money oh Fatou)
Nipe mali (Borrowing money)
Sizoe (I do not want to become a regular at this)
Niuwe mutu (Kill someone)
Nipate dawa ya feza (So that I can find a way to wealth)
Niuwe mutu (Kill someone)
Watanifunga (the man will surely lock me up)
Niuwe mutu (Kill someone)
Thambi kwa Mungu Baba (That is a sin aganist the Lord God)
Kama hunipendi we (If you do not love me as I am then)
Uende lote mama (Be completely gone my lady)
--- *2
Shauri yako *4 (Its your problem *4)
Shauri yako (Its your problem)
Wende lote Zena wangu (Be completely gone my Zena)
Siwezi kuua mutu mama (I cannot kill a soul my lady)
Thambi kwa Mungu Baba (Thats a sin aganist the Lord God)
Wende zote Zena wangu (Be completely gone my Zena)
Niibe mali (If I steal)
Watanifunga (the man will surely lock me up)
Niuwe mutu (Kill someone)
Thambi kwa Mungu Baba (Thats a sin aganist the Lord God)
Kama hunipendi we (If you do not love me as I am then)
Uende lote mama (Be completely gone my lady)
--- *2
Kama hunipendi bibi yangu (If you do not love me my wife)
urudi kwenu mama (Go back to your family my lady)
Kama hunipendi (If you do not love me)
uniwache yangu (Leave me and mine)
Kama hunipendi (If you do not love me)
Sheri Mama wende lote (Sheri my lady be gone)
Ohhh wende lote mama *4 (Ohhh,my lady be gone)
Ohhh Zena wangu (Ohhh my Zena)
Uende lote mama *8 (Be completely gone my lady *8)
Zena wangu (My Zena)
Mtoto wa kwetu (Child of ours)

Ntimbo: Listen
Mazembe - Listen


Anonymous said...

Many Thanks for Thank you very much by those song of Central and East Africa.
could to place some bands of luo Benga of Kenya, for Example : CK Jazz and Georgue Ramogui or Victoria Jazz Band, Shirati Jazz Bands of the years 70s.

you have files of Les Kilimanbogo of Kakai Kilonzo, Kalambya Sister and Kalambya Boys.

the only Albums to know , these 2 Albums of Les Kilimambogo " Simba Africa" and The Best of Kakai Vol 1.

here a Link: Discographie of Shirati Jazz Band


Anonymous said...

Thank you for this web site and the diverse music samples and full LP's offered.

I am very interested in more of the African serenade series.

Where are vol 1-25?

do you have them? can you post them so we can listen to them?


Japesa Yudotech

matt said...

None of the earlier African Serenades series will be uploaded. Please contact me directly via matsuli (at)

Ntwiga said...


I have been lurking on your site for quite a while now, just enjoying the music and appreciating the good work that you are doing. I'm glad that I can contribute in my own small way to what you have here. Thanks for the write up.

If you need some more translations done (or maybe the odd version of some not so obscure piece of music) let me know.

womad soul said...

Thank you for your blog. I enjoy reading it. Do you know more about Nguashi? Please have a look at this:
You may find the download of Manguta, a wonderful song by Nguashi!
Could you reactivate your file to Nguashi's version of Shauri Yako?

AlistairLondon said...


thanks for the words to shauri Yako, many fond memories...

can you explain the relationship between Nguashi N'Timbo and TP OK Jazz? I have the 1981 vinyl 12" of him "Avec L'Orchestre festival Du Zaire" Polygram ASLP936 which includes Shauri Yako -- and the cover attributes both shauri yako and the accompanying Mami to T.P.OK Jazz!! while the two songs on side B (Simikala and Kabu) are credited to Sentima Star.

By co-incidence the visual you have accompanying african serenades 46 is a 45 "Manguta" by TP OK Jazz with Ntimbo credited as the songwriter.

So I suppose N'timbo was singing and writing with TP OK jazz before he moved to Kenya... but was the original version of Shauri Yako actually recoreded by members of TP OK jazz?




Marten said...

Great! I hadn't expected to find these lyrics nor the interesting contextualization. Thanks!

Mtukufu said...

I'm thinking the song you're talking about by Mbilia Bel & Tabule is called AFRISA INTERNATIONAL ( Shauri yako ). Africans voted for the original version as song of century on BBC by Super Mazembe thinking they're votting for this.

Anonymous said...

Shauri Yako my baby!!! Finally I have the words to your beautiful melody. So timeless and perfect, let others have their Mozart and Bach, I am content with you and my grandchildren will sing your song as well. Tosha.

sexy said...







jonathan said...

Hi Matsuli. Thanks so much for these posts. They're lovely. I can't get your M4A files to download. I think the links are broken. Are you still updating this site? If so, could you repost the MP3s or M4As of Shauri Yako? I know the Mazembe version very well, but would love to hear the others also. Thanks from Bangkok!

Anonymous said...

Mbilia bel did Shauri yako in English. It is one of my favorites. A wonderful rendition of a wonderful song. Please someone. Can you post the lyrics of Mbilia Bel's Shauri Yako English version