Woyaya – the catchy title song of the second album by Osibisa, a London-based Ghanaian and Caribbean Afro-pop band led by Teddy Osei – was released in 1971 and would frequently be heard in various settings throughout 1970-80’s Africa. By the time it was reissued in 2004 along with the self-titled first album [Osibisa], the song had been covered by musicians such as The 5th Dimension and Art Garfunkel [click on pics for music]. For many Osibisa fans, the uplifting expression “woyaya” has since come to literally mean “we are going…”

Woyaya [lyrics] ~ by Osibisa

We are going,
Heaven knows where we are going,
[But] we know within…
We will get there,
Heaven knows how we will get there,
[But] we know we will…
It will be hard, we know,
And the road will be muddy and rough,
But we’ll get there,
Heaven knows how we will get there,
[But] we know we will…
Woyaya… woyaye… woyaya… woyaye…!

The name “Osibisa” derives from osibisaba – the Fante word for a proto-highlife African rhythm. Interpreted in album notes and interviews as “criss-cross rhythms that explode with happiness,” Osibisa’s blend of African roots, Caribbean influences and foreign pop made them Africa’s best-known band and inspiration to struggling musicians for several years. However, music industry changes [punk, disco…] and Sunny Ade’s rise with his undiluted Nigerian juju music began to eclipse Osibisa in the 1980s.

The artistry which nevertheless helped Osibisa captivate the popular imagination and retain their global renown over the years is in the band’s logo and album cover art, thanks in part to English artist Roger Dean whose professional training included architecture. His art on Osibisa’s earliest albums became a signature style for the band [see gallery below] and a career breakthrough for him… a design Dean described as “credible African fairytale imagery” which features “flying elephants and not architecture.”

Though it’s not clear to me what the elephant may represent in Dean’s architecturally-trained artistic imagination, during my subsequent online research on this majestic animal I grew up as a neighbor to, I was astounded by my own new lesson… the elephant-as-artist. How completely ironic!

I grew up knowing my elephant-neighbor as a revered symbol of maternal strength, power, longevity, stamina, loyalty, cooperative spirit, wisdom, moderation, patience, happiness, clarity, dignity, status, and royalty. Elephants have been used in wars such as the one led by Hannibal, a General from Carthage, against Rome in 218 BCE. Legendary in Africa for their excellent memory, there’s a saying that goes “women and elephants never forget an injury.” As reported in the Scientific American, this adage has a basis in the fact that remarkable power of recall is critical to the survival of elephants. Studies conducted at Amboseli National Park in Kenya have demonstrated that elephant matriarchs in particular maintain and use their store of social knowledge for their family/community welfare. As a species, elephants are endangered because of the destruction of their environment, and the killing of them for their tusks which are traded on the illegal $$$billion ivory-market.

The emotional-awareness of elephants is highly advanced relative to other animals due to the superior development of their hippocampus from where they register and emote humor, compassion, and grief. They gather in groups to grieve the loss of a loved one who may even be of another species, exemplifying the unity-consciousness Africans refer to as UbuNtu… meaning “I am because we are.” When “elephant whisperer” Lawrence Anthony died in March 2012, for instance, two herds of elephants traveled over several hours through the South African bush to his house to mourn him. Things that make me go “Hmmm…”

…I can’t help wondering now how real elephants might react to the artistic fairytale depictions of themselves on Osibisa‘s album covers? The green reptilian in this apocalyptic composition looks like he’s about to get schooled on what time it really is by a winged pachyderm… an avenging savior-figure delivering a refresher course on Divine Feminine energy which, like elephants, are said to “never forget an injury.” Woyaya! Heaven knows…

Abundant blessings in 2019 and beyond ❤ UbuNtu

GALLERY OF SELECT OSIBISA ALBUM COVERS [1972 – 2009] :

 

 

Ascension ~ “Black Orchid”

“…She has touched the farthest star
Her beauty speaks of what we are
And her freedom makes us free
Her now is in eternity, infinite to all that see
And her dreams have been achieved
Now there is a sound of laughter
Nature sings out her name
For the world to know her fame… 
~ Black Orchid ~” [Stevie Wonder – from ‘Journey Through the Secret Life of Plants’]

During the months of July and August, 2018 Mother Earth is responding to an amazing shift in the Harmonics of the Spheres. The Sun’s gravitational pull has aligned to one side of itself all of the planets in the solar system, each with their own unique frequencies. Read More

UbuNtu ~ On Owning Your Masters


“If you don’t own your masters, your masters own you.” On his B’Earth’Day [June 7th] in 1993, Prince changed his name to the unpronounceable Love Symbolof his recently released 14th studio album following disagreements with Warner Brothers [WB], the label which originally signed him in 1977. It was a public act of rebellion against WB’s restrictions over him and his prolific creativity. Likening their contractual relationship to one of indentured servitude or slavery, Prince explained: Read More

Water Bearers & New Age Libations

“When the moon is in the 7th House… And Jupiter aligns with Mars… Then peace will guide the planets… And love will steer the stars… This is the dawning of the Age of Aquarius…” [Lyrics from “Age of Aquarius” by the 5th Dimension, 1969].

Humanity is said to be currently moving to its new astrological Age – an event which happens roughly every 2,000-plus years. We’re living through a transitional period Read More

Panther ~ Black Rite-of-Passage

“Great, another broken white boy for us to fix!” One of several funny lines from Black Panther delivered by Shuri in reference to CIA Agent Everett Ross. “What the hail!” My line when I left the theater on President’s Day with mixed feelings about the movie, but mostly about the droplets of ice which had just begun falling from LA’s South Bay skies onto my African head-wrap. Was this a sign? Movie promos had gone hard with Gil Scott Heron’s classic The Revolution Will Not Be Televised, I mused while trying to extract pieces of the odd weather from my son’s fro for inspection. But why not build a strategic alliance between African cousins rather than having T’Challa, in true bourgeois liberal fashion, make a Wakanda charity-case out of Killmonger’s Oakland after the fact? Mom, it’s not your story… Huh?!  Read More

HaNtu: Afrofuturism “In the Stone”

~ Posted in honor of African-American Music Appreciation Month, June 2017 ~

“The artist is meant to put the objects of this world together in such a way that through them you will experience that light, that radiance which is the light of our consciousness and which all things both hide and, when properly looked upon, reveal. The hero journey is one of the universal patterns through which that radiance shows brightly.” [Joseph Campbell, Pathways to Bliss] Read More