‘Malaika’ guitar chords, lyrics, and translation

‘Malaika’ is one of the most famous Swahili love songs, often attributed to the Kenyan musician Fadhili William. He first recorded the song with his band the Jambo Boys in 1960. I heard this song for the first time in 2007 while living with the Kunjombe family in Bagamoyo, Tanzania. My host mother, Mariam, sang this song often. Later, I found this beautiful version performed by Harry Belafonte and Miriam Makeba.

As I’ve done with the other songs, I will provide the original lyrics in Kiswahili, the chords (as best I can), and the English translation. Enjoy!

Malaika

First verse:

D               A                   D          A

Malaika, nakupenda malaika,

D                A                  D         D7

malaika, nakupenda Malaika.

.                    G                                Em    A

Nami nifanyeje, kijana mwenzio,

A                                    D        A                   A7       D       A

nashindwa na mali sina, we, ningekuoa Malaika,

A                                    D        A    A7                     D       A

nashindwa na mali sina, we, ningekuoa Malaika.

 Second verse:

D       A                           D         A

Pesa zasumbua roho yangu,

D      A                             D        D7

pesa zasumbua roho yangu.

.                    G                                Em    A

Nami nifanyeje, kijana mwenzio,

A                                   D       A     A7                     D       A

nashindwa na mali sina, we, ningekuoa Malaika,

A                                   D       A     A7                     D       A

nashindwa na mali sina, we, ningekuoa Malaika,

Third verse:

D            A                      D         A

Kidege, hukuwaza kidege,

D            A                      D         A

Kidege, hukuwaza kidege,

.                     G                                Em    A

Nami nifanyeje, kijana mwenzio,

A                                   D       A     A7                     D       A

nashindwa na mali sina, we, ningekuoa Malaika,

A                                   D       A     A7                     D       A

nashindwa na mali sina, we, ningekuoa Malaika,

Repeat first verse.

English translation:

Angel, I love you Angel.

Angel, I love you Angel.

And I, your young lover, what can I do.

Was I not defeated by the lack of fortune,

I would marry you Angel.

Money is troubling my soul,

Money is troubling my soul.

And I, your young lover, what can I do.

Was I not defeated by the lack of fortune,

I would marry you Angel.

Little bird, I dream of you little bird.

Little bird, I dream of you little bird.

And I, your young lover, what can I do.

Was I not defeated by the lack of fortune,

I would marry you Angel.

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14 responses to “‘Malaika’ guitar chords, lyrics, and translation

  1. Thank you so very much for the original words, the chords and the translation! I first heard this song in Kenya and Tanzania on a travel study program in 1974. At that time I had someone write the words out for me, but have since regrettably lost that piece of paper (or have NO idea where it is :) Thank you again for bringing back glorious memories of my trip

  2. Thank you, this is one of my favourite african songs, mama Mirriam Makeba has always been an inspiration to many of us here in South Africa and she sang this song beautifully as well, I am taking guitar lessons and this is one of the songs I’d like to sing as soon as I can master the chords.

  3. Thanks for this beautiful work u’ve done very well.
    I’ m german but I visited Afrika that much they now call me the white
    Massai down there in Kenya.
    My Kiswahili improves with this alot!
    Thank you

  4. I fell In love with the song not knowing my husband was in exile in Tanzania and I want to sing it for him on our 16 yrs anniversary Asante dada

  5. Thank you…
    I recently fell in love – discovered my true love and this afternoon remembered this song from my early days in Kenya… and thought, how would I sing it and translate it to her..
    Thank you

  6. Thank you Rebecca! I especially wanted the translation, but to confirm my chance chords with what you have here will be helpful too.
    You have been there (Swahili land)! So have I. It is so sweet to see something real from there. I am learning Swahili right now, at a breakneck speed, and my Ugandan wife and three children are soon coming to Australia I hope. It would have been even better if we could afford that I would move to Uganda, but this is going to be fantastic. I have just picked up this lovely song because the work on it is now justified in my pursuit of learning Swahili. – Thank you for visiting near my favourite country!

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