On our visit to Okinawa, we were lucky to spend time with some friends who are from the Okinawa folk music group Deigo Musume. These four sisters of the Higa family of Yomitan made popular, a song written by their father, about the war. Its vivid description and heavy emotions are overshadowed by the up tempo beat that disguises the song’s true story. The song is titled “Kanpo nu Kwe-nukusaa”(Leftovers of the Warship), and refers to the surviving Okinawa people being the scraps of leftovers after the war had eaten their parents and islands. Its been around for decades, but now, Deigo Musume, along with Yomitan Village and many other supporters, are raising money to put the words into stone as a memorial to the war, and so that the story will not die and to always remember how bad war can be so that we can always strive for peace. The group has produced a 5 song CD to help raise money for the cause. It’s a fairly reasonable amount at 1,000 yen. The words are in Uchinaaguchi. When you hear it and listen to the words, you can look at the English translation, but the power of the Okinawan language comes out as no other words can describe how the nuances of the language affects the song and meaning. Ukwanshin will support this cause and if you would like to order CD’s please let us know so we can get them from Okinawa for you. We will also be collecting donations to send back after Christmas, for the building of this peace memorial in Yomitan.
Here are the words and translation to the song…
This up tempo song sounds happy, but when listening to the words it brings tears and makes us think about the horrible suffering Okinawans experienced during the war. This group Deigo Musume sings this and their father wrote the song. It tells his story and experiences of the war. Their father was later killed by an American military serviceman who ran him over.
This song also stands for what Okinawa is experiencing today as Okinawans are still fighting for peace that has not come as the war still continues for Okinawa. We were told that you can see the people in this video holding back tears and being strong as they need to in everyday life so they can continue with life among the discrimination, bases and other things. That is why the song was written in an up tempo so as not to be so depressing and to remember what happened, but be strong to go on with life.
The title of the song is “Kanpo nu Kwe-nukusa”(leftovers of the Warships). The song says…
Wakasaru tuchine ikusanuyu, wakasaru hanan sachi yu-san
`yan, gwansun, uyachoden, kanpo shageki nu matuninati
Chirumun, kwe-mun, muru neran, su-ti chya kadi kurachanya.
I was young when war came, our youth was interrupted. Our houses, grandparents, parents and siblings, the rain of bombs and artillery from the ships destroying and making the land unrecognizable and hard to look at.Our clothes, food, everything gone, we had nothing so we ate the poisonous seigo palm.
*Unjun Wannin, Iya-n Wannin, Kanpo nu kwe-nukusa.
Kamin, hutukin ayuraran, haruya kana ami jin naran.
`Ya-gwa ya kaji nu uttubacchi, senkwa katamiti subikatti.
Ucche, hicche mutabacchi. Chimuya makutu du yatashigaya.
To the gods and to our ancestors, we couldn’t even cry for help, the fences came and our land taken away, we lost our money and livelihood. The tent houses we lived in blew away from the typhoons, we scrounged for food and stole war rations and got caught. They beat and dragged us, but our intentions were not of malice, we were just trying to survive.
Duru nu nakakara tachiagati, chine-matumiti tuji tumeti.
Nashigwan nmariti me-nin nashi, jinan, san nan, chinan bi
Awarinu nakanin warancha-ga, warai gwi-chichi, chimutumeti
From the dirt and rubble we stood back up, I looked for my parents, children and wife, but they all perished. Later, I had other children, oldest, second, and others. In all the despair the laughter of children”s voices brought comfort to my heart.
Heiwa nati kara ikutushika, kwanucha-n magisa natiwushiga.
I-yan rataru yama shishi nu, waga ku umuyurugutuni.
Usumiji matatu ndi umure-, yuru nu yunagata mikufayusa.
When peace comes, how long will it last? The children have all grown now. I remember how we hunted the wild boar for food, but also now think about how it must have been for it’s babies that were left to fend for themselves when we killed the mother. I don’t want my children to taste that bitterness. The thought keeps me up at night.
Wa uya kwattaru anu ikusa, Wa shima kwattaru anu kanpo.
Namari kwatin, washirariyumi, Ta-ga anu jama shi-njachaga.
uradi-n, kuyadin, akijaran, shisun machide igunsana.
My parents were eaten by the war. Our islands were eaten by the warships. For the future generations we cannot forget this. Who caused and started this problems? Nothing can compare to the suffering and sadness we experienced, so we must make sure that this story is told.
Click this link to see and hear the song.