Can Anyone Help with a Circle Dance Song that Goes, ” Mumbo, hot-toe, mata relay, relay”?

Sheila wrote from North Carolina asking about a circle dance song:

I sang this in kindergarten 55 years ago. I don’t know the correct spelling of these words, but this is what the refrain sounded like…

Mumbo, hot-toe, mata relay, relay
Mumbo, hot-toe mata relay relay roan.

It was a circle dance with one child in the middle, who led verses about imagining you were something and acting it out. All the children would follow the actions of the child in the center. Then they would sing the refrain again.

Are you familiar with this song and know its origin?

Thank you,

Sheila from North Carolina

Later I asked Sheila is she knew where this song is from. She replied:

I believe it was to have originated in Africa… or some island. We had to wear a long skirt with a short skirt over it (so we looked 2 layered). I have heard the song within the past few years, on the radio in the background of some news report about children and couldn’t believe my ears. Would really like to find out more about it.

If you can help with this song, please let us know in the comments below.

Thanks in advance!

Mama Lisa

This article was posted on Sunday, January 23rd, 2011 at 9:59 pm and is filed under African Children's Songs, African Games, African Music, Children's Songs, Circle Dance, Circle Games, Countries & Cultures, English, Games Around the World, Languages, Mama Lisa, Music, Questions, Readers Questions, Songs by Theme, United Kingdom, USA. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

3 Responses to “Can Anyone Help with a Circle Dance Song that Goes, ” Mumbo, hot-toe, mata relay, relay”?”

  1. Bridget Says:

    That sounds to me like “Ambos a dos” (Matarile rile rile)

  2. Monique Says:

    You’re right Bridget, there are different titles for it, we have it on Mama Lisa’s World Spain page as Mambó ató and it originated in France as Ah, mon beau château as far as we know.

  3. Sheila Says:

    Thank you Lisa, Bridget and Monique! Since I’m now 63, my memory of what we sang in Kindergarten is a bit distorted. But I did listen to the MP3 link and that is the song! Wow! After all these years. Thanks again.

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