African lullabies are popular around the world. In fact, searches for “African lullabies” are one the top ways people find our YouTube channel and our website. So, we thought we would collect some of our favourite lullabies here from our multi-part series of Songs From Around the World. Discover the music, explore the musical picture books, and add the playlist to your library. Want to go further? Explore our free teaching guides and activity sheets. Bikilou The lullaby heard here is performed in the Kongo language spoken in the Democratic Republic of the Congo and northern Angola. While she is away, a woman places her youngest son in the care of her eldest daughter, who sings to stop her brother’s incessant crying. From Songs in the Shade of the Cashew and Coconut Trees. Thula baba This lullaby points to new realities in the Zulu lifestyle. Traditionally, men were farmers raising crops to feed the village, but nowadays there is little work in the places they can afford to live. It is almost impossible for fathers to both live with their children and support the family. A mother who has stayed in the village uses this lullaby to maintain hope that “the morning star will lead Papa home.” From Songs on the Vanilla Trail. Aðas aðas amimmí This very melodic, traditional Kabyle lullaby plays on the repetition of the relaxing “m” and “s” sounds, the accumulation and improvised linking of tender words, and the harmony of the sounds tasa (liver) and atas (sleep). From Songs in the Shade of the Olive Tree. Une tite fleur l’amour Five-year-old Éloïse Agenor-Poinsot is the youngest vocalist to sing on Songs on the Vanilla Trail. She opens the album with the lullaby “Une tite fleur l’amour” (“A little flower of love”), which she performs in Réunion Creole alongside her father, Lionel Agenor. Watch the video. From Songs on the Vanilla Trail. Ninância Vitorino Chantre wrote the lyrics to this lovely lullaby, which is sung in the Creole language of the Barlavento Islands (known as “islands of the wind”), which form the northern tip of the archipelago. His son Teófilo composed the music in waltz rhythm, which is rare in most regions of Africa but common in Cape Verde. From Songs in the Shade of the Cashew and Coconut Trees. Ye tsodja waye For centuries, the collective memory of Comorians has been handed down from generation to generation through song and dance. Music accompanies every stage of life. When a child is born, women sing poetic songs called himbiya ikosa to support the mother during labour. Comorian children are thus welcomed into the world by a kind of lullaby, the genre to which “Ye tsodja waye” belongs. From Songs on the Vanilla Trail. Owanan bélé nana This very short lullaby performed by Angélique M’Bemba and Nell M’Bemba is an incantation intended to bring on sleep. It is sung by all mothers of Myene ethnicity, a group that lives in the central African country Gabon. From Songs in the Shade of the Cashew and Coconut Trees. Iny hono izy Justin Vali, heard performing on this Madagascan lullaby, is a specialist of the valiha, whose sound is reminiscent of the kora and harpsichord. Having learned from his father starting at the age of five, Vali went on to become an ambassador for Malagasy music, sharing stages all over the world with the likes of Peter Gabriel and Kate Bush. From Songs on the Vanilla Trail. Gandú ê This beautiful lullaby comes to us from São Tomé and Príncipe, one of Africa’s smallest countries. Sung in Forro, a Portuguese-based creole, it tells the story of a shark, king of the sea, who has swallowed a fisherman’s hook and is pleading for help. From Songs in the Shade of the Cashew and Coconut Trees. Mbube Sound familiar? “Mbube” was popularized in North America as “Wimoweh” and “The Lion Sleeps Tonight” thanks to Disney's The Lion King. The song was first written in Zulu in the 1940s by the South African musician Solomon Linda, who led the a capella band The Evening Birds. Watch the video. From Songs on the Vanilla Trail. Ndi le e Performed in Bamana, this lullaby from Cameroon provides a marvelous illustration of the importance of community in Africa. At any time, in the village, a child can be cared for by the entire group. Kou Ngan, the head of the chiefdom, is the invisible guardian of the village. From Songs from the Baobab. Ximwanana xanga The mother speaks to the absent father in this lullaby: “You appreciate, don’t you, that I calmed our child by myself?” Once the baby has been calmed, the lullaby ends with the traditional “wo, wo, wo” until the child has fallen asleep. Nowadays, this song is performed by various musical groups in the marrabenta style, a very popular urban musical genre that developed in southern Mozambique, specifically in the Mafalala neighbourhood of Maputo, in the 1930s. From Songs on the Vanilla Trail. Songs From Around the World Subscribe to our monthly newsletter to stay informed about our new releases and events and for a chance to win our subscriber giveaway. To order books for your library or bookstore, please contact Independent Publishers Group (United States), Hornblower Books/University of Toronto Press (Canada), and MMS/BookSource (United Kingdom). For additional information, email firstname.lastname@example.org.