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Dr. Goodword
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Postby Dr. Goodword » Fri Sep 27, 2013 10:14 pm

• kumbaya •

Pronunciation: kum-bah-yahHear it!

Part of Speech: Noun

Meaning: 1. "Come by here" in the Negro spiritual "Kum Ba Yah, my Lord". 2. Human spiritual unity, often used sarcastically.

Notes: We have finally solved the mystery of where today's Good Word comes from (click here). We are still struggling as to how to use it. It is associated with singing around a campfire while holding hands as a symbol of spiritual (or pious) unity.

In Play: Although this word has been contaminated by the Washington press, we do not have to yield the meaning of this word to the cynics just yet: "We were lucky that all our good intentions led to a kumbaya spirit that helped us quickly settle the church's business." By the same token, we cannot ignore the current (mis)usage: "If the town council thinks there is some kumbaya solution of the downtown parking problem that will please everyone, they are naive, indeed."

Word History: "Kumbaya, my Lord" was first recorded in 1927. The song was sung in Gullah on the islands of South Carolina between Charleston and Beaufort. Gullah is the creole language featured in the Uncle Remus series of Joel Chandler Harris and the Walt Disney production of Song of the South. American missionaries took the song to Angola after its publication in the 1930s, where its origins were forgotten. In the early 1960s the song was rediscovered and made popular by Pete Seeger and Joan Baez. It was quickly associated with the Civil Rights Movement and other liberal causes, which invited sarcastic use by opponents of those causes.
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Perry Lassiter
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Re: Kumbaya

Postby Perry Lassiter » Fri Sep 27, 2013 10:47 pm

After directing 30+ youth camps complete with campfires, I can tell you that the song is ever new to junior high kids and quite lovely when sung by young voices in the dark.

Still it would be fun to see Obama and Congress join hands, singing kumbaya at the next State of the Union speech! Like it'll happen... :-/

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Re: Kumbaya

Postby misterdoe » Sat Sep 28, 2013 2:40 am

Never knew it was Gullah; I had always assumed it was Swahili. My grandfather was born in the area where Gullah was spoken, and lived there until he was twelve. I don't know if it was actually his native language, but it was definitely the source of his accent.

My dad knew that accent from South Carolina -- he's from up the coast a bit, alongside the North Carolina border. But when we watched Daughters of the Dust, the story of director Julie Dash's great-grandmother on 1900-era St. Simon's Island, SC, he swore that was a Jamaican accent they were using. But the director said that was her great-grandmother's speech pattern, and even then it was dying out.

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Re: Kumbaya

Postby Philip Hudson » Sat Sep 28, 2013 3:34 am

Gullah is a fascinating dialect. To me, it is more interesting and meaningful than Ebonics.

Singing Kumbaya around a campfire is a heartwarming experience. I did it as a child and so have my wife and children.

I was unaware of the less than appropriate use of the word that the Good Doctor illustrated. It is not unusual for hymn tunes to be used with a secular purpose. It goes the other way also as in the hymn, "Joyful, Joyful, We adore Him" with the music from Beethoven's "Ode to Joy".

I have also seen the phrase "Come to Jesus" used as a description of a "when the chips are down" situation.
It is dark at night, but the Sun will come up and then we can see.

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Re: Kumbaya

Postby MTC » Sat Sep 28, 2013 6:10 am

We hear kumbaya used derisively and mockingly so often, it's good to be reminded that it is in fact a moving spiritual, sung around campfires by children. Kumbaya redeemed!

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Re: Kumbaya

Postby LukeJavan8 » Sat Sep 28, 2013 11:57 am

MTC wrote:We hear kumbaya used derisively and mockingly so often, it's good to be reminded that it is in fact a moving spiritual, sung around campfires by children. Kumbaya redeemed!

Hear! Hear!
-----please, draw me a sheep-----

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