UPDATE: Bele Mama is originally from Cameroon. Nyango wrote, “Bele Mama does mean ‘call Mother’ in my Oroko language and some other languages from the Kumba area in the Southwest region of Cameroon. The rhythm too is definitely from this region. Sounds like songs I sang as a kid.”
Bele Mama is a song we received from the Torres Strait Islands. The islands are north of Australia and south of Papua New Guinea. It seems to have traveled there from Cameroon.
The lyrics to Bele Mama are very simple:
Bele mama eh
Bele mama eh
Bele mama eh
Here’s the score:
You can hear the song sung here…
Many thanks to Mary-Anne for sending us a score for Bele Mama and to Monique Palomares for the final score and midi tune. Monique works with me on the French and Spanish versions of Mama Lisa’s World.
This article was posted on Thursday, June 30th, 2011 at 11:13 am and is filed under Australia, Children's Songs, Countries & Cultures, Questions, Torres Strait Islands, YouTube. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can skip to the end and leave a response. Pinging is currently not allowed.
13 Responses to “Bele Mama – A Song Sung in the Torres Strait Islands – It’s originally from Cameroon”
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August 22nd, 2012 at 5:19 am
Search for Bele (sic) Mama and you will pull up results indicating an African origin. You can find it on Amazon and Spotify. It means ‘call mama’.
May 15th, 2014 at 6:12 am
Bella mamma is Italian for beautiful mother
July 31st, 2015 at 2:45 pm
Call Mama – from West Africa
in Swahili: Mbele Mama – long time ago, mama
October 14th, 2015 at 8:44 am
@ the language – searching in the web makes the african origin more probable, many groups sing “mbele mama”. The score doesn’t represent the song in your youtube sample, where the even 2/2 measure is used. I didn’t find any sample for this song in the 3/4 time, so maybe it should be replaced.
February 5th, 2016 at 6:26 pm
The song seems to be sourced from both the Torres Straight and places in Africa. Some speculate that the song was brought by missionairies or traders and spread that way, as the words do not match the language in any of the locations.
I will send you a link to a recording in Africa in the next email.
February 5th, 2016 at 7:01 pm
Thank you Tina!
February 6th, 2016 at 7:37 am
Here is the link to the Belle Mama track.
January 20th, 2018 at 9:50 pm
I’m going to record a CD with this song, is it free of copyright?
February 15th, 2019 at 4:30 pm
Hello Lisa, to Lisa! Thank you for sharing your site and songs… You asked for proper attribution and this page from my friend Mila explains the whole origin story and mix-up with New Guinea attribution. It’s actually from Cameroon and means “Call Mother” – a song for calling your mother out to party with you! https://singforjoy.ca/origins-song-oral-tradition/ You may want to update the attribution on your site when you can to prevent more confusion…
February 22nd, 2019 at 3:17 pm
The snippet on the above website was too short for me to listen to the full song. But it most definitely is Cameroonian. Bele Mama does mean “call Mother” in my Oroko language and some other languages from the Kumba area in the Southwest region of Cameroon. The rhythm too is definitely from this region. Sounds like songs I sang as a kid.
February 26th, 2019 at 5:22 pm
Thanks everyone for your help! We added Bele Mama to our Cameroonian Songs. We included more commentary about the song from Nyango and Mila.
March 20th, 2020 at 5:06 pm
I cannot find any recordings with a triple meter, so I really feel the sheet music should be taken down and created in duple meter. I think a feeling or 2 or 4 works fine.
Thanks for your site!
March 21st, 2020 at 3:25 pm
Thank you Mary Lynn! We changed the score. Cheers! Mama Lisa