Transliteration and translation by 'Mad' Mark Lamki
Some of you may remember the discussion a few months back about what language Mustapha was in. I should apologise to Majid Mirmehdi who said it was in Arabic. I said it wasn't. In fact we were both right, sort of. Some of it is Arabic, but most isn't. The Arabic is limited to names and expressions which even I, who know no Arabic worth mentioning, can translate. I knew about this at that time, but never thought about it, because I considered it so insignificant.
Well, now I have done my best to transcribe the lyrics as accurately as I can. For the non-English parts, in order to be as phonetically consistent as possible, every time a sound appears I've used the same letter(s) to represent it. However there are doubtless some mistakes. In particular, words which I have ended with "n" may in fact end in a "d" or "m" sound; I was often uncertain. Anyway...
Guide to pronunciation:
OK, here goes!
Ibrahim, Ibrahim, Ibrahim, Allah, allah, allah, allah will pray for you. Hey! Mustapha, Mustapha, Mustapha Ibrahim. Mustapha, Mustapha, Mustapha Ibrahim. Mustapha Ibrahim, Mustapha Ibrahim Allah, allah, allah will pray for you. Mustapha Ibrahim, al havra kris vanin Allah, allah, allah will pray for you. Mustapha, hey! Mustapha Mustapha Ibrahim, Mustapha Ibrahim, hey! Allah-i, allah-i, allah-i, Ibra-Ibra-Ibrahim, yeah! Ibrahim, Ibrahim, Ibrahim, Allah allah allah-i hey! Mustapha Mustapha - allah-i na stolei Mustapha Mustapha - Achtar es na sholei Mustapha Mustapha - Mochamut dei ya low eshelei Mustapha Mustapha - ai ai ai ai ahelei Mustapha, Mustapha, Ist avil ahiln avil ahiln adhim Mustapha, Salaam Aleikum! Mustapha Ibrahim, Mustapha Ibrahim Allah, allah, allah will pray for you. Mustapha Ibrahim, achbar ish navin Allah, allah, allah will pray for you. Mustapha, Mustapha Mustapha Ibrahim, Mustapha Ibrahim, hey! Allah-i, allah-i, allah-i, Ibra-Ibra-Ibrahim, yeah! Ibrahim, Ibrahim, Ibrahim, Allah allah allah-i hey! Mustapha Mustapha Mustapha Mustapha Mustapha Mustapha Mustapha Mustapha Mustapha, Mustapha, Vontap ist ahiln avil ahiln adhim Mustapha, Aleikum Salaam hey!AND NOW the big question...what does it all mean!
Well, firstly I'll point out that it is in THREE languages - English, Arabic, and an unidentified language which I assume is the Parsi language.
The rest of the song is in the unidentified language. I assume it is Parsi partly because of Freddie's family background, and partly because an Iranian friend was able to recognise about one word in ten (!) and of course the Parsis were the original Persians and their language is presumably related to modern Persian (Farsi). I have recently checked with a cousin who speaks excellent Arabic and he assured me that it is definitely NOT Arabic.
What is the song actually about? Your guess is as good as mine! Someone suggested it might be about an Arab friend of Freddie's, perhaps from his childhood in Zanzibar. Maybe. I can't even guess, except to say that the large number of Islamic references seems significant.
Finally, sorry this is so long! But if you read all of it, just imagine how long it took me, including repeatedly listening to the song to try to pick up every single sound...so please, I'd like some feedback. Anything will do, just tell me you read it and what you thought of it. Now I'm off for a rest!