La Negra Tomasa — Español-English

“La Negra Tomasa,” or “Bilongo,” is a song written in 1937 by the Cuban composer Guillermo Rodríguez Fiffe (1907-1995).

Guillermo Rodríguez Fiffe (1907-1995)
http://www.ecured.cu/Guillermo_Rodr%C3%ADguez_Fiffe

This song is an enduring classic because it is such an infectious dance tune. My current favorite version of “La Negra Tomasa” is by Los Guaracheros de Oriente, but there are many many recorded versions available on CDs, or electronically (for sale, or gratis on internet sites like YouTube).

To learn more about the Cuban music of which “La Negra Tomasa” is one example, see the lovely documentary “Música Cubana en Santiago de Cuba.”

Musica Cubana en Santiago de Cuba (Documental “Cuba es Musica”)
[1:00:09]
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zeHHn26dW30

Este documental es precioso. Se ve gente que son totalmente musical, que son parte de una población a quien la música es tan necesario para vivir como la sangre y el aire. Y mira que nadie se puede aguantar sin mover cuando oyen la música.

This documentary is precious. You see people who are totally musical, who are part of a population for whom music is as necessary for life as blood and air. And see how nobody can keep from moving when they hear the music. The documentary is photographed with beautiful clarity, and is entirely in Spanish, but don’t worry if Spanish is not one of your languages because most of the documentary’s hour is taken up with enchanting musical performances. A delight for the ear, the eye and the soul.

The Spanish lyrics of “La Negra Tomasa” follow, along with some notes on a few of the Afro-Cuban expressions, and then my English translation of this song. After that, I list a few recorded performances posted on the Internet. Enjoy!

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Cuba Antes 9 - Version 4Med

LA NEGRA TOMASA (BILONGO, 1937)
Guillermo Rodríguez Fiffe (1907-1995)
[Letras a la manera de Los Guaracheros de Oriente, mas o menos]

Estoy tan enamorao’ de la negra Tomasa
Que cuando se va de casa
Que triste me pongo
Estoy tan enamorao’ de la negra Tomasa
Que cuando se va de casa
que triste me pongo.

¡Ay! – ¡Ay! – ¡Ay!

Esa negra linda
Que me hecho bilongo.
Esa negra linda
Que me hecho bilongo.

Na’ ma’ que me gusta la comida
Que me cocina.
Na’ ma’ que me gusta la cafe
Que ella me cuela.
Na’ ma’ que me gusta la comida
Que me cocina.
Na’ ma’ que me gusta la cafe
Que ella me cuela.

¡Ay! – ¡Ay! – ¡Ay!

Esa negra linda
Que me hecho bilongo.
Esa negra linda
Que me hecho bilongo.

Kikiri-BU ¡mandinga!
Kikiri-BU ¡mandinga!

Asi canta el gallo en la finca

—> cantantes improvisan
—> y música instrumental

Kikiri-BU ¡mandinga!
Kikiri-BU ¡mandinga!

—>

Kikiri-BU ¡mandinga!
Kikiri-BU ¡mandinga!

—>

Kikiri-BU ¡mandinga!
Kikiri-BU ¡mandinga!

—>

Kikiri-BU ¡mandinga!
Kikiri-BU ¡mandinga!

—>

Kikiri-BU ¡mandinga!
Kikiri-BU ¡mandinga!

—>
—>

Kikiri-BU ¡mandinga!
Kikiri-BU ¡mandinga!

—>

Kikiri-BU ¡mandinga!
Kikiri-BU ¡mandinga!

—>

Kikiri-BU ¡mandinga!
Kikiri-BU ¡mandinga!

—>

Kikiri-BU ¡mandinga!
Kikiri-BU ¡mandinga!

—>

Kikiri-BU ¡mandinga!
Kikiri-BU ¡mandinga!

—>

Kikiri-BU ¡mandinga!
Kikiri-BU ¡man-din-ga!

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enamorao’ = enamorado (enamored, in love)

bilongo = under a spell, bewitched

mandinga = A catchall name in Cuba for a variety of Senegambian peoples who were captured and forced into slavery, arriving in Cuba around 1830. — Ned Sublette

Kikiri-BU mandinga = The mystery [of the meaning of “Kikiribu mandinga”] is easily solved if you refer to the next line in the song. “Asi canta el gallo en la finca” Which means, “Thus sang the rooster in the farm” Kikiriki or Quiquiriqui is the usual Spanish onomatopoeic spelling of a rooster’s crow. “BU” is a syllable shouted to scare someone. Therefore “Kikiri Bu” is a rooster crow meaning to scare someone who might be trying to take him, in this case a “mandinga.” “Mandinga” was a term used in Cuba to refer to slaves brought over from the Senegambia region of Africa. If you listen carefully to the song, you will hear that the “BU” is emphasized when sung and there is a slight pause from the “kikiri” to the “bu” separating the words. I hope this clears the mystery. — Magicflute (at the following link)

“Kikiribu mandinga”
http://forum.wordreference.com/threads/kikiribu-mandinga.487323/

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Abajo están las improvisaciones de Compay Segundo en su version de “La Negra Tomasa,” una de sus grabaciones de 2000 bajo el nombre “Las Flores de la Vida.”

Below are Compay Segundo’s improvisations in his version of “La Negra Tomasa,” one of his recordings of 2000 under the name “Flowers of Life,” (without English translation; that’s your homework).

Quiquiribu mandinga
Quiquiribu mandinga.

Alla en La Habana tasajo
Y alla en Oriente mabinga.

Quiquiribu mandinga
Quiquiribu mandinga.

Yo conoci a un cocinero
Que cocinaba mabinga.

Quiquiribu mandinga
Quiquiribu mandinga.

Y machacaba los ajos
Con la cabeza el mortero.

Quiquiribu mandinga
Quiquiribu mandinga.

Como bailaba Tomasa
En el barrio de la timba.

Quiquiribu mandinga
Quiquiribu mandinga.

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BEWITCHING TOMASA
[an English translation of “La Negra Tomasa”]

I’m in love so completely
with that black witch Tomasa,
when she’s out cause she hasta’
I get so sad and lonely.
I’m in love so completely
with that black witch Tomasa,
when she’s out cause she hasta’
I get so sad and lonely.

Aye! — Yay! — Yay!

Oh me, that black beauty,
she has made me spellbound.
Oh me, that black beauty,
she has made me spellbound.

The only food I want to eat is
what she’s been cooking.
The only coffee I want to drink is
what she’s been making.
The only food I want to eat is
what she’s been cooking.
The only coffee I want to drink is
what she’s been making.

Aye! — Yay! — Yay!

Oh me, that black beauty,
she has made me spellbound.
Oh me, that black beauty,
she has made me spellbound.

Ki-ki-ri-BOO, Mandinga!
Ki-ki-ri-BOO, Mandinga!

The cock spooks the witch to stay a free winger.

Ki-ki-ri-BOO, Mandinga!
Ki-ki-ri-BOO, Mandinga!

—> ETC.

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Los Guaracheros de Oriente — “La Negra Tomasa”
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=J_8mX1Ar5lw
[Posted by Ramoberg, with a good slide-show video, and detailed notes about Ñico Saquito, the founder and leader of Los Guaracheros de Oriente.]

This same recording as above is posted multiply by ORFEON, the record label:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qKlktMNWxk4
and
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aOMHR3AQkuU
[all three above have good sound]

Biografia De Los Guaracheros De Oriente
sábado, 27 de julio de 2013
http://sandritocubanito.blogspot.com/2013/07/biografia-de-los-guaracheros-de-oriente.html

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Son de Cuba — Bilongo, La Negra Tomasa
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ew-7ZH14LsM
[A live performance in Curaçao. Tamara Morales sings. ¡La mujer canta! Good bongos. Lively and tight.]

Sexteto La Playa — Bilongo
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=M_-mhbm28yY
[A lively recording from back in the day (~1950s).]

Compay Segundo — La Negra Tomasa
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=V-6vqC5V6zk
[A modern (2000) music video with that wily old pro (of Buena Vista Social Club fame) Compay Segundo.]

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