Can Anyone Help with a Song from Harlem that sounds like “Babalaba cumala cumala beaste”?

Max wrote in asking about a song from her childhood in Harlem:

As a child in Harlem in the 50’s we had a call response song where the child would make some moves while saying:
Babalaba cumala cumala beaste.
The group would then ready the words and the movement. The next line was:
Ocha nono nono beaste with another body movement. This was also repeated by the group.
The final  word was Beaste! With a final dramatic move (flip or leap or semi-split) . The group would do it afterwards.
We all laughed and the next person would take the lead.
My granddaughter asked me today what did the words mean. I did not know! Have you heard of this? Can you help find the meaning?
If anyone can help with  this song, please comment below.
Thanks in advance! 
Mama Lisa


This article was posted on Sunday, April 8th, 2018 at 7:09 pm and is filed under American Kids Songs, Call and Response Songs, Children's Songs, Countries & Cultures, English, Languages, Mama Lisa, Questions, Songs by Theme, 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.

5 Responses to “Can Anyone Help with a Song from Harlem that sounds like “Babalaba cumala cumala beaste”?”

  1. Glenda Bennett Says:

    As soon as I read this I thought of the novelty song Flea Fly there are many different versions of this

  2. Lisa Says:

    That could be where it comes from! We have many versions of Flee Fly here.

    It sounds like these two lines:

    A kooma lata, kooma lata, bee stay
    A kooma lata, kooma lata, bee stay
    Oh, no, no, no, not to bee stay
    Oh, no, no, no, not to bee stay

  3. Lisa Says:

    It may come from Chubby Checker’s Cu Ma La Be Stay…

    Or this song by Marsha Hunt – Oh, no! Not the Beast Day!

    Which came first? The street rhyme or these songs?

  4. janet Williams Says:

    As a young girl in Brooklyn, NY, a group of kids (boys and girls), we would chant this verse and after the chanting the first, Babalaba cumala cumala beaste, whoever was the lead chanter would do a dance movement and the rest of the group would mimic the movement. Then the lead chanter would chant the second verse, Oh, no, no, no, not to bee stay, and another movement and the group would mimic the movement and the final verse was, bee stay, bee stay with a final movement. Then another kid would become the leader and repeat the chant with another movement different from the first. This was an enjoyable event that took place when we were outside in the early summer evening after suppertime. Sometimes, the movement would be funny and silly, but the rythm, beat of the chant was a way of dancing and singing.

  5. Mike R. Says:

    This song was sung when I was a camper at YMCA Camp Tousey in upstate NY in the early 1960’s. I’ve looked for a reference to it to no avail, until I saw your post.
    My spelling (from the pronunciation I remembered) was:
    Babalaba Goombala Goombala Bee-Sayyyy.
    The leader would sing it in (largely) a monotone, and the group would repeat it.
    The same with the next phrase:
    Oh, nada, nada o-bee-sayyyy.
    After several repititions, it would modulate up a half step in pitch, and the whole thing would repeat.
    It’s a strong childhood memory for me – Any idea what these words mean, or even what language they’re in? Mike

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