Song lyrics of Mamady Keita's Djole

Could someone explain these lyrics?

I found a translation, but I’m interested in each word and the grammar too.

Lailaiko Korobe Korobe Korobe
Mami watole Aiya!
Sikoleleleko Aiya!
Sikolaiko, Sikolaiko
Wawanko, Sikolaiko

The drummers are reunited for the celebration
Mamady is going to join them
For the celebration of the Siko drums
Let’s play our Siko drums!
Let’s begin the Siko party!

The Song is here:

I ni ce!

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I ni ce, Boka! Welcome to the Forum :slight_smile:

While the transcription more or less captures the sounds that I hear the guy singing, it doesn’t look or sounds much like the translation that you posted.

I recognize the following:

Mami watɔ le
‘Mamadi is going’

The rest of it could possibly be some esoteric lyrics that could be translated in spirit to that which you posted, but I don’t see any words that literally translate to “drummers” or “party”, for instance.

Perhaps someone versed in drumming could explain help parse what you have written as “lailaiko” and “sikolaiko”, etc., because like “Mami watole” they are not properly written in standard orthography.

I’m not sure if @Christy might have any leads or ideas better than mine? :slight_smile:

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Boka! From Brasil, right? Welcome to the forum! :slightly_smiling_face:


I don’t have any leads or ideas better than yours. Don o don, tulo bɛ taa kalanso. I learned something new from you today! :relaxed:

Boka sent an email to me on Thursday and asked if I had shared the translation of Mamady’s “Djole”. To which I replied, “no”.

He sent what seemingly was a transcription, as above, and then I listened a little and Google searched and came across this link which I told him might be the English translation and that I, myself, wasn’t familiar with the language in the song.

:memo: SOURCE: Djole | Traditional Djembe Rhythms of West Africa

Only to then receive another email from Boka saying/asking, “Oh so this is definitely not Bambara / any Manding variety? What could it be? Mamady Keita is from North-East Guinea.”

To which I replied, “I’m sorry, but I’m not sure which language it is or what variety it may be derived from. It could possibly be a Manding variety… but maybe not. I’m still learning about the different dialects/varieties of Manding myself. The only thing I can say, is that my ear is not picking up on any Manding that I am familiar with… not even a little bit. Again, it could possibly be a Manding variety… but maybe not.”

Then, when I received the notification that he had posted here in the forum and saw he was asking about the lyrics and grammar I thought it best to await another person’s reply, as they might have more insight into Boka’s different questions. :slightly_smiling_face:

PS - When I saw that Boka had used the word Manding, lol, I knew that he must be one of your subscribers! :relaxed::wink::partying_face:

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Ah! I see that Boka has been working on this one for a while :slight_smile:

I have to admit that I had the same initial reaction as you: I didn’t hear any clearly recognizable Manding. The only bit that lines up with something I know is the Mami watɔ le bit; I wouldn’t have even thought of it without the translation that Boka shared.

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Thank you all, this is becoming exciting :slight_smile:

As Djolé is the nr. 1. singing song of all learners of djembe drumming, and Mamady Keita was the nr.1. ambassador of playing the djembe, knowing the cultural roots of this song would be a great thing.

I’m surprised so few Manding words are in it… What could it be then?

Siko is a drum, that is for sure :slight_smile:

Thank you for any further ideas for unlocking the song’s secret.


I’m not saying that there isn’t some Manding in there, but you might want to look into Susu, the dominant language of Conakry and coastal Guinea, as a possible source too. Like Manding, it’s a “Mande language”, which means that it’s part of the same larger linguistic family and therefore shares some structures and cognates even if it is a completely different language.

I see that Mamady Keïta was part of the state-backed Guinean tradition so he clearly would have been working with numerous traditions and languages and not just that of his native Manding-speaking region.

Perhaps you can find someone better versed in drumming and keep us posted! :slight_smile:

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Thank you very much, Coleman, I’ll look in to Susu and try to find a drummer who knows more about Mamady Keita’s songs and Susu.


The rhythm Djole comes from Temne people in Sierra Leone. It is originally played on square shaped drums, that are called Siko.

More information here: jole
One of the French texts there translated by Google reads: “The singers use a mixture of languages including Soussou and Malinke as well as many onomatopoeias, making the singing practically untranslatable.” :nerd_face:

Here is a performance by a group in Conakry using the Siko drums: Siko Djole - Badera Percussion - YouTube

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mmmmmmmmmmm, thank you coleman, great to know the origins of djole!! :slight_smile:

i’m in the middle of moving house and intense pre-xmas ngoni
production, so i feel the earliest i’ll have time for jumping back
into learning manding, will be after xmas!

good vibes for you!!

k’an ben,

You’ve thanked the wrong person, Boka! It was @Aga who chimed in with the information! Thank you for your help @Aga and welcome to the Forum! :slight_smile:

Haaaa true :slight_smile: thank you Aga!!! :sparkles::pray::slightly_smiling_face: