Emotion: Track by Track

As Papa Wemba's iconic 1995 album Emotion reaches its 25th anniversary, we look back on each of the songs, exploring the lyrics and meaning behind them. The album was produced by Stephen Hague (New Order, The Pet Shop Boys) and saw Wemba reach out to a wider audience with more pop music influences to be heard, including a cover of the Otis Reading classic 'Fa Fa Fa Fa Fa (Sad Song)'.

1. Yolele

Written by Kanza/Wemba

I am capricious
I am pretentious
Instead of telling you I love you
I keep it to myself
Yolele I have lost you
Love exists since Adam and Eve
Yolele I’ve lost you

Papa Wemba - Yolele (Official Video)

2. Mandola

Written by Rouvier/Wemba

How could you abandon me in the house
When it caught fire?
You have shown me that you are hard-hearted
The whole village fled
And you didn’t wake me up!
Me Mandola!
Let me burn
Let me die
Oh Unhappiness!

I am only the skin which makes the drum
That is what makes others happy
Where would I find the money
To buy the Earth/Land
To build a house for Father
To build a house for Mother
To shelter them from the rain?

Fire! oh money
Oh misfortune
It’s difficult for me
To have money
The life of a believer
Is full of happiness
The life of a pagan/unbeliever
Is Hell
I have no price
To be traded
Not me, Mandola

3. Show Me The Way

Written by Kanza/Wemba

I have lost my way because you have left me
That’s why I have become a nomad
Great father, please show me the way
My friends, how could you?
I am seeking the way through life
How wicked men are
They don’t want me to succeed
Take my hand
Show me the way I can go

When a child is born very early in the morning
As the sun comes up
It’s time to celebrate
But night falls on a village which weeps

4. Fa Fa Fa Fa Fa (Sad Song)

Written by Redding/Cropper

Originally recorded by Otis Redding, this song features guest vocals by British soul singer Julia Roberts.

Papa Wemba - Fa Fa Fa Fa Fa (Sad Song) [Official Video]

5. Rail On

Written by Kanza/Wemba

My thoughts disappear
My worries disappear
Who will I spend the night with?
Because you have left
I am full of sorrow
And I don’t know what to do
If the path you’ve taken is a good one
If you think you are going to succeed
Go my sister

Rail on, rail on rail on
Think that’s the way


Written by Munan/Wemba

Shofele, driver, drive fast
Shofele, driver, drive fast
Let’s get home
My friends, listen to this sad story
About Zuluwe
We all went into the forest
When we cam back my heart was broken
When we cam back my heart was broken
Yeyeye Yeyeye

7. Image

Written by Polloni/Wemba

When God created the Earth
He said to us “Go and Multiply”
When God created the Earth
He said to us “Love one another”
Then God created us in his own image
The priest and the doctor
The civil servant and the road sweeper
The teacher and the doctor
Then God created the musician and the dancer
The sun and the moon
All God’s creatures

There was a country where there were many people
Who did not get along well with each other
Because they had forgotten the Word of God
When Satan came down to earth
He brought sin
And people started killing each other
In the country of Apartheid
I don’t know if the sobbing of the black man
Has ceased
A single law can bring us together
Love your Neighbour as Yourself
God, give us the strength
To resist Satan
Because you created us in your image

Remembering Papa Wemba

Real World Records was devastated to hear of the untimely death of Papa Wemba.


8. Sala KEBA (Watch Out)

Written by Kanza/Wemba

My friends abandoned me in the meadow (or left me out on a limb)
Because they wanted to have a lot of money
Go quickly, leave quickly
Be careful, you may stumble
Be careful
Be careful, my friend

The world is like water in a canoe
You take in some today, tomorrow it all gets bailed out
You were in a hurry to have a lot of money
And now look— today you have nothing left
Be careful
Be careful my friend

The world is like the jaws
Of a goat as she chews
The world is the city
Where Satan fights God’s Ten Commandments

9. AwaY’Okeyi

Written by Kanza/Wemba

If today you go away
Who will tend the field that we tilled together?
If today you go away
Who will tend the flower of our love?
Who will tend the field
And who will care for the child
That we brought into the world
My heart that you have taken
What should I do
If I lose you
Into this world of couples
I am left single
Who should I go out with

Who will care for the child we had, you and I,
Now that you’ve gone
You have taken my heart with you
The flower has faded
My heart, you have abandoned
The flower, the flower of Love
Now that you’ve gone

10. Epelo

Written by Polloni/Wemba

Mother planted a tree in the garden
Father watered it so that it would bear delicious fruit
And I tend it until (the day when)
Epelo is grown up so that she will not want for food
Look, now she is grown up
Look, now she is grown up
Is the value of a person
That person herself? Or what she carries inside?
I don’t want to be traded
Because I have no price
If the world is invaded by hatred
It’s because we are surrounded by water
I don’t want to be laughed at
Black men have black skin
But their brains are not black.

11. aH oUAIS (oH yES)

Written by Rouvier/Wemba

Tell me, oh yes, have I stopped loving you?
You have unsettled my mind
Childish love is a game
I bring you a rose
As proof of the feelings in my heart

What have I done to you
To make you close the doors of your heart to me like this?
You won’t even accept a kiss on the cheek
And now that I’ve lost you, who can I go and cry to?
I will weep, I will continue to weep
Oh Yes!

Featured release

  • Emotion

    Papa Wemba

    Released 13 March 1995

    Fresh and daring as ever, this world-class singer continues his ascendancy to global notoriety with total emotional impact. A brilliant blast of pop and dance rhythms make up the brightest, most accessible album of Papa Wemba’s career.

By Online Editor

Main image: Papa Wemba, from the photo shoot for the album Emotion. Photo credit: Steve Pyke.

Published on Mon, 16 March 20

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