Can Anyone Help with the Afro-Cuban Song “Yemaya Assessu”?

Marion was looking for a Cuban song and asked for help on the Mama Lisa’s World Facebook Group. The song is about Yemaya, a west African goddess of the oceans. She’s often depicted as a mermaid. It seems the song is in the Yoruba language. The song is now sung by choruses.

Here’s the thread about the song…

Marion wrote, “I recently learned a beautiful song from Cuba in a session with a woman who got it from there. I can’t find it on Mama Lisa’s World. So is there anyone here from Cuba who can give us some traditional versions of ‘Yemaya Assessu’? Thanks!”

Glenda wrote, “I just YouTubed it. There’s quite a few on there. Look at the one that says where the river joins the sea. It will tell you the meaning. What a beautiful song. I may teach it with preschoolers next year.

Marion wrote, “A celebration of the moment when the river meets the ocean. Yemaya is the goddess of the ocean and the mother of all goddesses.

I don’t like the Deva Premal version, because the version I know from my life is far more ‘tribal’ and powerful to my ears. I researched it – it originally comes from Nigeria (Benin), where Yoruba people use to honor a sea goddess. Then it traveled to Cuba.

She (the goddess) is also adored and revered in Brazil on the Summer Solstice and other festival days including September 7th and February 2nd. In Santería, the Goddess is the ruler of the seas and oceans, as well as the mother of all living things. It’s actually on the summer solstice that my ‘teacher’ discovered the song.

Can anybody help please?

*****
Note from Mama Lisa:

There are the lyrics I’ve found so far. (I read that they’re inspired by a Yoruba song)…

Yemaya Assessu
Assessu yemaya
Yemaya olodo
Olodo yemaya

If anyone knows anything about this song, please share it in the comments below. We’d also be interesting in learning the original Yoruba version.

Thanks in advance!

Mama Lisa

This article was posted on Saturday, January 19th, 2019 at 12:27 am and is filed under Countries & Cultures, Cuba, Languages, Mama Lisa, Nigeria, Questions, Spanish, Yoruba. 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 the Afro-Cuban Song “Yemaya Assessu”?”

  1. Sandy Rey Says:

    Where the River joins the Sea
    Ase 🙏🏼

  2. Omi Says:

    It’s not a song, it’s a chant to the Orisha Yemaya. A goddess of the seas. You sing it to give thanks to her.

    Yemaya assessu; Assessu Yemaya
    Yemaya Olodo; Olodo Yemaya
    Kai kai kai Yemaya Olodo, Kai kai kai Assessu Olodo

  3. Pampalele Says:

    Omi is correct.
    The song refers to that special and ephemeral and magical moment of the river meeting the ocean.
    This song or chant is in the Yoruba language.
    Many Yoruba-speaking people were forced into slavery in the Americas, and their religion remains one of the dominant beliefs in Latin America and the Caribbean. In Cuba, the religion is called Santeria (referring to The African Saints, the orishas).
    many songs, chants and dances , proverbs, moral codes and medicinal knowledge were passed down to us in the Yoruba language. Sometimes through public performances of the chants, Sometimes in secret.
    In the Yoruba kingdoms of Southern Nigeria (West Africa), the orisha Yemaja, the river, is one of the embodiments of the almighty, Oludmare.
    In the Americas, this “saint” Yemaja represents the ocean.
    In this song, the Yoruba word “olodo” refers to the water.
    The chant evokes Yemaja, who may respond by entering into a singer, who goes into a trance and speaks the words of Yemaja..
    The chant refers to that special and ephemeral and magical moment of the river meeting the ocean.
    In parts of the Caribbean, people may carry spiritual baths at the mouth of a river, where it meats the sea, ofter at the ephemeral moment of sunrise.
    Hope this helps.

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