Sorting old papers I stumbled upon a note I had taken while underway in Zimbabwe. It is the lyrics of a Shona lullaby. My phonetic transcription was like this – Elisabeth posted a comment with a corrected transcript :

Shiri yakanaka unoendepi ?

Huya, huya, huya titambe

Ndiri kuenda kumakore

Kuti ndifanane nemakore

I have not found those lyrics anywhere else on the web, but I was told this song is a classic for many children. I don’t remember the exact meaning of the song – the closest thing I have to a translation is on the BBC Radio 3 site where a Zimbabwean mother explains :

‘Here’s your nice bed’ (you will be imagining there’s a bed flying up in sky) ‘Hey nice bed where are you going? Please, come to me, Come let’s play together.’ And the bed will say ‘Oh no, I’m going into the clouds I want to be as nice as the clouds.’

Now you better have a good answer ready for when your kids ask you why the bed goes flying into the clouds… Until then you an go to the BBC Radio 3 site to listen to the tune from a recording of that woman singing Shiri Yakanaka !

I sang that to my daughter when she was a baby a few years ago, and it worked like a charm…