Can Anyone Help with the African Song Kourilengay?

Karen Mackenzie wrote to me looking for help with a song called Kouralengay.  It’s most likely from Tanzania or West Africa.  Here are the lyrics, midi tune and score…

Kouralengay kalenkana
Chum chum pa
Koura lengay kalenkana
Chum chum pa
Ona ding onka
Ding ding ding

Midi Tune of Kouralengay Kalenkana

Listen to a recording of this song here.image

Karen wrote:

I have come across this song in two separate books and one claims it is from Tanzania.  Can you confirm or deny this for me and if it is, what do the words mean and what is the origin?

…Yes, this book [where it can be found] is Music in the Early Years by Susan Young but I originally found it in Lucinda Geoghehan’s "Song and Rhymes for Middle Years".  The trouble is, I have learnt that picking up songs from people and authors who are not directly from the source, all sorts of misunderstandings and assumptions can occur!!!

Best wishes


If anyone can let us know specific countries where this song is sung, please comment below.  We would also like to find out what language it’s in and what it means. 

Thanks in advance!

Mama Lisa

This article was posted on Thursday, June 30th, 2011 at 3:37 pm and is filed under African Children's Songs, African Music, Children's Songs, Countries & Cultures, Kouralengay, Music, Questions, Tanzania. 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.

7 Responses to “Can Anyone Help with the African Song Kourilengay?”

  1. A. Ridge Says:

    I found this song in Silver Burdett’s Making Music and it is listed as a “game song” from Tanzania. The way they show the title is “Kou ri lengay (The Strength of the Lion).”
    This version of the song ends with english words: O the strength of the lion is in his tail (chanted 4 times).

  2. John Ulysses Says:

    We used to sing this in 3rd grade music class in upstate New York. It would have been in 1967-68. Anyone else have it in their class?

  3. Anne Says:

    I found this in Silver Burdett’s Making Music as well, but it doesn’t really have a “game” that goes with it. It has a story that the kids can act out, but this feels like it has some other game with it… only it doesn’t list it in the book! Any ideas?

  4. Roslyn Says:

    We too sang this song in 3rd grade here in Suffolk, Virginia! I’m almost 60. It was playing in my head! I couldn’t get it out. 😄 I decided to look it up and was led here. I remember my music teacher getting excited about singing it. She gave us maracas to play while singing it!

  5. Alice Says:

    I’ve been trying to find this song for years, thinking it was a memory I’d imagined. I had a South African primary school teacher in Northamptonshire, UK. She used to get the class to sing this song and I loved it!

  6. Mace Welch Says:

    We sang this in my elementary school in San Antonio TX in the mid-70s. There were animals besides the lion: the “buff’lo” was one, but there were certainly others.

  7. Carrie Says:

    I came here hoping to find a game that goes along with this song, too. I am programming it for my 3rd graders’ spring concert (“Party Tonight at the Zoo!” is the theme). I might just have to make up some movement. The Silver Burdett version is awesome.

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