At the conclusion of the 2008 African Cup of Nations, we offer a new translation of Ejigayehu Shibabaw‘s, or Gigi‘s, song “Kwass Meda” (Soccer Field). The song features on the 2000 release One Ethiopia, with the translation from Amharic by Solomon Abebe and his nephew, Befekadu.
As a note to the translation, Solomon Abebe, associate professor of education at Taylor University, Indiana, writes that Gigi’s frequent exclamation “Yaho” provides joyous affirmation, in the manner of conversation partners. “When you are talking to someone exchanging ideas, for every sentence that you make the person will utter ‘eehm’ or ‘yes’ or ‘ya’ indicating the person is actively listening to you. The word ‘Yaho’ is used in that sense, except it is celebratory and joyous.”
Soccer field (3x)
Soccer field & play
Habesha person, my countryman where I could see
Those who were lost would be found
Those who longed will find each other.
Gathered all Habesha, Yaho
They all congregate, Yaho
Let us join soccer field, where we celebrate, Yaho
Let us join soccer field, where we will be joyous, Yaho
Let us join soccer field, where we all show off, Yaho
Let us join soccer field
Audience, the game is about to start.
The referees are on the field,
Players are in their respective positions
Supporters are chanting for their teams
It is about to start, It has started.
Repeat chorus 2x
They all assemble from different places
Let’s all put our Sunday best on and show up.
One searching for the other, Yaho
Running and pushing crowd, Yaho
Those who longed, Yaho
Crying with embrace, Yaho
Soon and in laughter, Yaho
Resort back to crying, Yaho
There she is, Yaho
There he is, Yaho
Looking in the crowd, Yaho
Around the stadium, Yaho
Vertically, Yaho, Horizontally, Yaho
Let us search who all are present (2x)
San Francisco’s, Yaho
Atlanta’s, Yaho, D.C.’s Yaho, L.A.’s Yaho,
Dallas’ Yaho, Texas’ Yaho, the South’s Yaho,
The East’s Yaho, The West’s Yaho
I wouldn’t want to be you [the ball] Yaho.
Who Yaho would score you Yaho
Who? Yaho would be engaged Yaho
Who is going to score Yaho
The war at the Congo Yaho, Your property didn’t resemble the score
The goal kick chest-trapped by number 8, passed to number 10
Number 10 moved lateral then passed to number 9
9 dribbled forward and gave it back to 8
8 gave it back to 9 again
9 again dribbled it and passed it to number 10, and 10 aimed, kicked,
at the goal
Bravo goalier, the goalie has it
They pass the ball to each other, Yaho,
And finally kick to the goal, Yaho,
The flying goalie, Yaho,
Pick it off the air, Yaho,
The referee’s whistle, Yaho, the spectators’ noise
Exuberation Yaho, the joy, Yaho, the memory, Yaho
And the fun Yaho (repeat 2x)
The return kick by number 5, reached the wing number 7
7 dribbled forward and crossed to the goal.
9 received but lost, 10 got it back.
10 maneuvered forward then kicked!
Oh my! Hard kick. The goal shook. Oh my!
What a game, oh game, what a game!
D.C. proved it, what a game. Dallas proved it!
What a game Texas what a game!
What a game Canada proved it what a game!
What a game the North proved it what a game!
What a game the South proved it what a game!
What a game the East proved it what a game!
What a game the West proved it what a game!
—Translated from the Amharic by Solomon and Befekadu Abebe. Copyright © 2007. All rights reserved.