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Soundkeeper Recordings

Markus Schwartz & Lakou Brooklyn: Kay Sa

Minis Azaka

Traditional, with additional music and lyrics by Monvelyno Alexis
Arranged by Markus Schwartz, Monvelyno Alexis, and Bobby Raymond

Minis Azaka (Minister of Agriculture) is a praise name and aspect of the Lwa (Vodou spirit/energy) Azaka Mede, an agricultural spirit known for his folks wisdom and "country" dialect.

The piece begins with a short drum solo in the Djouba rhythm, the traditional rhythm for Zaka. The drum is laid on its side with the drummer sitting astride. While playing with their hands, the drummer simultaneously applies pressure to the drum head with the heel of their foot to change the pitch. This technique is found in drumming styles throughout the French Antilles, such as Guadalupe and Martinique. In fact, Djouba is called Matinik in some parts of Haiti.

Minis Azaka Elou e                       Minis Azaka Elou e
m’rele anmwe                       I cry for help
Minis Azaka Elou e                       Minis Azaka Elou e
Kannòt an mwen vle chavire                       My canoe wants to flip over
                         
Minis Azaka Elou e                       Minis Azaka Elou e
Toné, Souple!                       Please!
Minis Azaka Elou e                       Minis Azaka Elou e
Kannòt an mwen vle chavire                       My canoe wants to flip over
                         
Move tan bare mwen                       Bad weather, bad times are blocking me
Men fatra sou wout mwen                       Look at the garbage in my path
Lanjelis kouvre mwen                       The dusk is falling
Gad grangou nan vant mwen                       My belly is hungry
                         
Kote Djehova?                       Where is Jehovah?
Kote Danbala?                       Where is Danbala?*
Kote Ala?                       Where is Allah?
Kote Ayida?                       Where is Ayida?*
Kote Jezi Kri?                       Where is Jesus Christ?
La Vyej Mari?                       The Virgin Mary?
Kot Sent Espri?                       Where is the Holy Spirit?
Kote Simbi?*                       Where is Simbi?*
                         
Men grangou nan vant mwen                       The hunger in my belly
Lanjelis kouvre mwen                       The dusk is falling
Men lafen kouvri nou                       The end is enveloping us
Ipokrisi bare nou                       Hypocrisy is blocking us
                         
Kote Desalinn?                       Where is Dessalines?
Kote Toussen?                       Where is Toussaint?
Kapwa Lamò?                       Capois La Mort?
Kot Wa Kristof?                       Where is King Christophe?*
                         
Ayisyen nan dlo                       Haitians are drowning
Dyaspora nan dlo                       The Diaspora is drowning
Bel Maman-n nan dlo                       My beautiful mother is drowning
Jakmel nan dlo                       Jacmel is under water

* Danbala, Ayida, and Simbi are Lwa or spiritual energy forces in Haitian traditions. Jean-Jacques Dessalines, Toussaint L’Ouverture, Capois La Mort (François Capois), and Henri Christophe were all prominent freedom fighters of the Haitian Revolution.


Markus Schwartz: Haitian Petwo drums, cajon, ride cymbal, miscellaneous percussion
Monvelyno Alexis: electric guitar, vocals
Bobby Raymond: contrabass
Godwin Louis: soprano saxophone

Listen to a sample