Can Anyone Help with a Jamaican Game Chant?

Sadie Campbell wrote on the Mama Lisa’s World Facebook Group asking for help with a Jamaican game song.  Here’s what she wrote:

I came across your Web site a few minutes ago and was led to this FB page. I was looking for the words we used to recite as children while playing a certain Jamaican game. Unfortunately I have forgotten some of the words and would like to teach the game to my grandchildren. It starts, "I dropped a letter on the way, Someone picked it up and wouldn’t give it up, A chi-chi bam bye zapati all over…" That’s all I remember. Can anyone here help, please?

Here’s what I wrote back to Sadie:

It sounds a bit like A Tisket a tasket, a green and yellow basket, I wrote a letter to my love and on the way I dropped itChi chi bam bam is another one…

Sadie wrote back:

Thank you for your help but I’m sorry neither of the songs you have suggested is the one. I did see "Chi chi bam bam" on your site and it is definitely not the song I remember. I also know "A Tisket a tasket a green and yellow basket" and it is not "my song" either. Didn’t Ella Fitzgerald sing that song?

Ella Fitzgerald did sing A Tisket A Tasket.

I asked Sadie if she could explain the game to us to help us find it.  Here’s what she wrote back:

Thank you very much for your help. The Game – As well as I can remember, it went somewhat like this. The kids playing would stand in a line, shoulder to shoulder. The leader would walk behind them and drop a piece of paper behind one of them. The leader would then go to the front and chant the song and when the song was finished would tap one of the players on the shoulder. This person would be IT. The leader and IT would race toward a predetermined spot. Whoever got there first would stay in the game, the loser would drop out. These steps would continue until there was just one person left who would become the winner. I will check your site from time to time to see if anyone can help. Thanks again.

Can anyone out there help with Sadie’s song?  If so, please let us know in the comments below.

Thanks in advance!

Mama Lisa (and Sadie!)

This article was posted on Tuesday, December 28th, 2010 at 5:45 pm and is filed under Children's Songs, Countries & Cultures, English, Games Around the World, Jamaica, Languages, Mama Lisa, Questions, Readers Questions, USA. 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.

3 Responses to “Can Anyone Help with a Jamaican Game Chant?”

  1. Joan Says:

    My mon says thats how the game continues.They ran off,when the other person is it the song starts over (all over).We don’t sing that song anymore because I don’t know it.

  2. Sadie Campbell Says:

    This is my new e-mail address. Thanks to Joan for her comment which was helpful. I now know that this game and chant were known by others outside of my small circle – school and home. I hope that others will see this and will be able to tell us all the words.

  3. Sadie Campbell Says:

    I hope you don’t mind my bother would with this. However, can you believe that after all this time (since April 2011) I awoke this morning with this elusive chant “buzzing” in my head…

    I dropped a letter on the way
    Someone picked it up and wouldn’t give it back.
    A chi-chi bam bye zapati all over
    Not you, not you, but you.

    While the “not you, not you” were being chanted, the leader would point at two different people. When she came to “but you” the leader would touch on the shoulder the person who had been marked with the paper behind her back (AS IT). The chase then started.

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