• Welcome to the Muppet Central Forum!
    You are viewing our forum as a guest. Join our free community to post topics and start private conversations. Please contact us if you need help.
  • Christmas Music
    Our 19th annual Christmas Music Marathon is underway on Muppet Central Radio. Listen to the best Muppet Christmas music of all-time through December 25.
  • 50 Years and Counting
    Read our review and discuss with fans the highly anticipated Sesame Street "50 Years and Counting" DVD set from Shout Factory featuring over five hours of beloved moments.
  • 50th Anniversary Celebration
    Read fan reactions and let us know your thoughts on Sesame Street's 50th anniversary special. An official DVD is on the way.
  • "Muppets Now" announced for Disney+
    It's finally official. A new, unscripted short-form series, “Muppets Now”, is coming to Disney+ in 2020. Let us know your thoughts on the Muppets big announcement.
  • The Dark Crystal: "Age of Resistance"
    After a 36 year wait, return to the great conjunction. The Dark Crystal "Age of Resistance" is a mesmerizing and beautiful prequel series now on Netflix. Renew your essence today.
  • Music is Everywhere
    Muppet Central Radio is now on TorontoCast, TuneIn and Apple Music. Listen to Muppet music 24/7 wherever you go with TuneIn and Apple apps and devices.

Abatiwaha...huh?

Convincing John

Well-Known Member
Joined
Aug 27, 2003
Messages
1,231
Reaction score
185
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):

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PLqb64Pb9So

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
 

GonzoLeaper

Well-Known Member
Joined
Oct 7, 2002
Messages
2,462
Reaction score
204
abatiwaha- A Xulu word meaning, "The cows are dying".
lol:zany:
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:
 

HootsytheOwl

Well-Known Member
Joined
Aug 5, 2009
Messages
63
Reaction score
11
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.:wink:

Your dear friend,
Kitt
 

Convincing John

Well-Known Member
Joined
Aug 27, 2003
Messages
1,231
Reaction score
185
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.:wink:

Your dear friend,
Kitt
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
 

Super Scooter

Well-Known Member
Joined
Dec 17, 2002
Messages
6,257
Reaction score
109
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." :wink:
 

abraxascarab

New Member
Joined
Jul 11, 2013
Messages
2
Reaction score
3
I got a question for y'all.
...
I wondered though, what does the word "abatiwaha" mean?
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. :smile:
 

Mo Frackle

Well-Known Member
Joined
Jun 4, 2011
Messages
3,096
Reaction score
2,801
Whatever it means, it's still a cute little Afro-Norwegian number.
 
Top