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SENYIWA (Pete. Pete) - OPEN TO INTERPRETATION

Senyiwa (Pɛtɛ, Pɛtɛ) is a folk song about a mother who sends for the child playing with friends to come home because lunch is ready. As I was arranging this folksong, I pondered over the words and tried to make meaning.

Folk songs come through oral tradition. Sometimes, words or phrases get distorted from one generation to the other, making them incomprehensible at times. Sometimes, we could only speculate their meanings of the words of the songs to make them meaningful. I share my thoughts to spark a conversation about Senyiwa and other folk songs. Through folk songs, we realize how intelligent and knowledgeable our forefathers were.


I begin by remarking that Senyiwa is a female name. The song does not say that the name of the child is Senyiwa. However, that is the only human name mentioned in the song. 'De den de' in the song could mean the following in Akan:

Seesaw - adende (a-dain-day) Or Welcome or an expression of an invitation to a hug - Dende(dain-day). Thus 'Senyiwa Dedende' (Say- in- wah -day- dain- day) could mean the nature of the play/game Senyiwa was playing with friends or an expression used by the children (sent by the mother) to hug Senyiwa.

The song mentions and personifies the vulture (Pɛtɛ). Vultures invite everyone in the community when they have food. It was not out of order that the mother sent for this child to come home for lunch singing (Pɛtɛ, Pɛtɛ). Probably, 'her' peers might also join in the meal.

A scriptural connotation to 'Senyiwa'(PƐtƐ) wavered in my mind as I pondered further. Relating the words and characters to the verse in the book of Psalms - resolved a possible meaning of this folk song. "Oh, taste and see that the Lord is good! Blessed is the man who takes refuge in him!" (Psalm 34: 8 ESV).

The vulture is hardly described as a beautiful bird and mostly viewed with indignation. However, the importance of the ecosystem has resulted in realizing how much the world owes to this bird. Vultures are often in the air on the lookout for their next meal, and they are ever ready to share. It is usual to see a vulture scavenging alone for its meal, but when one vulture gets a meal, the whole community partakes.

How often do we share our faith? I could only use mine as an example. In the song, Senyiwa, the mother reaching out to her child to come home and have a sumptuous meal is likened to this Bible verse.

The following is the dialogue that ensued between the child and the friends as they beckoned Senyiwa to come home and eat the sumptuous meal prepared by 'her' mother. The children sing Senyiwa Dedende after each line.

Friends: Vulture, vulture, Your mother is calling you Child: Why is She calling me? Friends: To Come and eat Child: What kind of meal? Friends: Fufu & Palm nut soup Child & Friends: A feast for all children (in jubilation)


Even when the invitation was extended to this child, she was hesitant and asked many questions - probably an excuse to stay longer on the playground.

Jesus beckons us to come and have a relationship with him. He offers us the best, but sometimes we are too busy, or we feel we do not deserve his call, so we become hesitant. Most times he keeps calling for a long time before we take heed. When we finally yield, it is all joy and to our advantage. We can now claim entirely all the good things/ promises that are in store for us.

Again, this is open to interpretation. Comment on how you understand this song. It should not necessarily be faith-based. It could be a moral stance or a personal thought.


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