Kolelemai

Words: Francisco Borja da Costa (1946-1975)
Music: Traditional Maubere / Abilio de Araujo
Additional bass and soprano harmonies: Jean-Anne Jones

An hour over the ocean from Darwin lies the betrayed nation of East Timor. Although drawn unwillingly into World War II the people of East Timor assisted the uninvited Australian troops against the Japanese assault and paid a hideous price. Their reward was thirty more years of foreign rule by the fascist government of Portugal, a few days of independance, and another generation of genocide under blood-soaked General Soeharto. In 1975 the Australian government had the power, merely by protesting, to prevent the Indonesian invasion and the subsequent loss of 200,000 East Timorese lives, but instead it chose silence – the chill silence of mass graves.

We want very much to dedicate our East Timorese songs to the memory of our friend and comrade Michele Turner, whose voice was never silent, but courageous and passionate during the many years she made a determined outcry for East Timor’s freedom.

This song (and Foho Ramelau) come from the independence struggle of East Timor. The lyrics of both were written by Francisco Borja da Costa, a leader of the Fretilin forces resisting Portugal’s colonisation of East Timor who was killed in 1975 on the day his independent country fell to a new enemy, Indonesia.

Consistent with Timorese decorum, Kolelemai is an obliquely framed but nevertheless firm condemnation of the impoverishment brought by foreign rule. It has a traditional Timorese folk tune in two parts, with additional bass and soprano harmonies by the Solidarity Choir’s Jean-Anne Jones.

Translation:

Why does your corn not grow?
Why doesn’t your rice sprout?
Who causes your empty stomachs?
Who causes your never ending sweat?

[chorus]
Who is responsible? Who is to blame?

Some say it’s because you’re lazy and stupid.
Some say it’s because you’re lazy and poor.

What is the cause of it? Who is responsible?

Lyrics:

Sá sá ha’ a nalo ó batar la fulin, kôlele mai.
Sá sá ha’ a nalo ó hare la burit, kôlele mai.
Se se ha’ a nalo ó kabun la bosu, kôlele mai.
Se se ha’ a nalo ó kosar la maran, kôlele mai.

[chorus]
Kolê lele mai rade kokodelê, kôlele mai.
Kolê lele mai rade kokodelê,
Kôle hele laloi kôlele mai.

Balu dehan ó baruk, balu katak ó beik, kôlele mai.
Balu raak ó baruk, balu katak ó tiak, kôlele mai.
Sá sá sá maka halo, se se se los se, kôlele mai.
Sá sá sá maka halo, se se se los se, kôlele mai.

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Author: solidaritychoir

Activist choir in Sydney Australia

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