My love for Celestine Ukwu is well documented, so I shan’t begin to gush about how his melodies soothe my soul, how the lyrics to his songs are full of meaning, of Igbo philosophy. How it harks back to a time I would probably consider simpler, an assessment with which my parents might disagree: ‘Love your neighbour’, ‘The enmity of a friend is dangerous’, ‘Don’t do bad shit,’ ‘The world doesn’t belong to you alone so share it well,’ and so on.
Anyway, this morning I was writing a short story (in fact I am still writing and will return to it once this blog post is done) when this song popped into my head. My story’s about this woman who plays Igbo music whenever there is trouble in her household. At first she starts with playing one of Chief Osita Osadebe’s hits but soon she segues to Celestine Ukwu. She’s a typical Igbo woman, in my view. Not great at talking about the softer parts of life, but very vocal about the hardships and her disappointments. And so, she lets the music do the talking for her.
In this song, he narrator starts by pleading with his lover, Adanma not to leave him. “The two of us will leave together, Adanma,” he says, although that’s a transliteration. In English it will be more like “Please say you’ll stay with me.”
‘Adanma the woman in my heart won’t let me rest
Adanma my friend whom I love won’t let me sleep
My love whom I have in my heart won”t let me rest
My friend whom I love, take my heart away
Adanma whom I have in my heart, take my heart away
Take my heart away, Adanma whom I love,
Take my heart away Adanma whom I carry in my heart
Take my heart away, Adanma please don’t leave me
Etc etc etc. A lot of begging, backed by sweet music. Then:
What have I done that’s caused you to run away from me?
What have I done to make you angry with me?
Whatever it is, please forgive me
If there is no love, there will be no forgiveness.
Please come and embrace me, Adanma
Ah. I am not romantic or sentimental but this music sits in the soul and washes it clean with its tears. If I were Adanma, I would have agreed with a quickness that would make your heads spin!
I wish the whole world spoke Igbo because I cannot write down the lyrics in their entirety. But trust me, they are very sweet, heartfelt and even a little sorrowful. Because you know Adanma is an Igbo girl and she DEFINITELY did not agree to forgive him. I can imagine her now, her eyes sharp, hand on her hip, mouth twisted in disdain.
“Is music food? Are words meat? What, am I now supposed to eat music? Mschew! Nonsense. My friend zuz out.”
Chai. Why are Igbo girls like this?
Enjoy the music! Tell me what you think in the comments section.
6 thoughts on “‘Without Sin, There Is No Forgiveness’ – a love song by Celestine Ukwu”
Chaiiiii o egwu m bu that
I have always loved Celestine Ukwu’s music. May his soul rest in the Lord. There is another one “ije enu”. They are always loaded with meaning. Not this computer age musicians “give me your waist” etc. Yes Celestine Ukwu, Osita Osadebe and their music are evergreen.
Ahhhh Nne thanks for sharing!
Celestine Ukwu’s music is what music should be. So soothing, calm, melodic with just the right amount of beat to sway those hips back and forth. Plus the lyrics are beautifully composed, meaningful and not lewd (Flavor, biko take note!). Amaka Obiora, i had finished typing before reading your comment i cannot agree more with you!
Ahn Ahn no need to be screaming, screeching and shouting, like demon possessed persons in the name of music.
See how is he was begging her, and wooing her. Unlike some umu-okorobia of nowadays.. You guys should pick up a few tips. I love “Usondu” too.
Going to find this on itunes.
Fantastic Highlife music by one of the best singers in his own right, RIP Celestine Ukwu.
Reminds me of early Saturday morning…..loads of clothes to wash and my dad playing his records….RIP Celestine Ukwu
Don’t understand a word, but nice music nonetheless 🙂