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Discussion in 'Classic Muppets' started by Convincing John, Mar 10, 2010.

  1. Convincing John

    Convincing John Well-Known Member

    Hey everyone,

    I got a question for y'all.

    I was watching the classic clip "Turn the World Around" the other day from the Harry Belafonte episode (one of my favorite songs from the whole series):


    I wondered though, what does the word "abatiwaha" mean? It's sung several times near the end of the song. "Whoa ho, so is life abatiwaha, so is life."

    The closest I got (with an online search) is a Swahili dictionary that couldn't find any matches.

    Belafonte says that the song was inspired from a storyteller in Guinea, but (according to Wikipedia) other languages are spoken there. (Swahili's spoken way over in East Africa).

    Anyone here have a clue how to translate this word? :search: (Sigh...where is C-3PO when you need him?)

    Convincing John
  2. GonzoLeaper

    GonzoLeaper Well-Known Member

    abatiwaha- A Xulu word meaning, "The cows are dying".
    Not really. I don't have a clue. It may just be a made-up phrase by Harry Belafonte. But it's possible it could be an African language word though...Hmm:search:
  3. HootsytheOwl

    HootsytheOwl Well-Known Member

    Abatiwaha..hmm, interesting

    Hi all...

    I wonder if it means "so is life"....because sometimes that happens in a song....people will say a word/phrase in another language and then translate it or vice-versa. Example: The new version of "We Are The World" has a French Creole phrase that means "We are the world" in it.
    Just a thought.;)

    Your dear friend,
  4. Convincing John

    Convincing John Well-Known Member

    I wondered that, too. Let's see, if it is "so is life" in another language, Guinea has a bunch of mother languages (according to Wikipedia, anyway). Which language would it be?

    I thought briefly that it was just a nonsense word that Harry made up, kinda like a scat word. But everything in the song really means a lot to him. It's such a deep and meaningful piece. Something tells me that "abatiwah" is something much more complex than something like "Pachalafaka" or "Mahna Mahna" which have no meanings, but are great songs.

    I wonder if I wrote to Harry, he'd respond. Some celebrities do, some don't.

    Convincing John
  5. Super Scooter

    Super Scooter Well-Known Member

    This might not be accurate, but according to Google translate, "So is life" becomes "hivyo ni uzima" in Swahili. But the Swedish Chef would say, "så är livet." ;)
  6. abraxascarab

    abraxascarab New Member

    I realize you asked this three years ago... however... since there was no answer, I thought I resurrect the thread with an answer.

    I love the song as well... and I was able to dig this up:

    "a bati wa ha" meaning in Swahili:
    a = of (denoting possessive)
    bahati = Fortunate (slurred pronunciation: bah-ati or "bati")
    wa = Existence (to be, become)
    ha = prefix denoting negative tense
    (therefore probably just a punctuated sound in the song with no meaning)

    Final translation: "Of fortunate existence. Ha!"
    or loosely: "Our lucky life. Ha!"
    or even more loosely: "so is life. Ha!"
    I hope future people who search for the meaning of this phrase find this explanation helpful. :)
    Mo Frackle and The Count like this.
  7. Mo Frackle

    Mo Frackle Well-Known Member

    Whatever it means, it's still a cute little Afro-Norwegian number.

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