Ai, ai, Aidê – Capoeira Song – Lyrics, English Translation and Meaning

It’s funny how sometimes we don’t ask ourselves the right questions… I’ve been singing Ai Ai Aidê in Capoeira rodas for years and yet it was only when I came to write this article I discovered it’s full meaning!

Aidê – Negra Africana

Aidê is a woman’s name. In this song, we don’t learn anything more about her, but there is another, perhaps less well known song that tells us more about her story: Aidê Negra Africana

In this song, we learn that Aidê is a black woman from Africa, who’d been brought to Brazil to work as a slave.

She was beautiful, with green eyes, a magical singing voice, and she could cook.

Obviously, the master of the house fell in love with her and wanted to marry her – being a slave she wasn’t going to have much say in the matter!

Fortunately she managed to escape, and flee to the quilombo Camugerê.

Here she found freedom and kinship with other escaped Africans who’d manage to flee their captors.

It’s unclear as to whether Aidê was actually her real, given name.

And she can cook!

What’s in a name?

One of the many humiliations inflicted on enslaved people was to have their real name taken, and be given a new name by their masters.

Aidê is a Portuguese version of the French name Haydée.

The name is associated with “independence and boldness, someone who knows what they want and fights for it”.

Was this name picked for Aidê because she had these characteristics? Or perhaps it is because of this Aidê of the song that the name now has these meanings?

Joga Bonito

Many songs in Capoeira have subtle meanings – often these will go unnoticed if you’re a beginner, especially if you don’t understand Portuguese – But often the words describe or dictate how the game is or should be.

Ai Ai Aidê is (for many) one of these songs.

If you hear the Mestre sining this song, there’s a good chance that it is because he wants to see a “Joga Bonito – Beautiful Game”. That is a fluid, more collaborative game – not rasteiras and martelos to the face.

Or perhaps they just like the tune, who knows! There are never any hard and fast rules in Capoeira…

Ai Ai Aidê – Lyrics and Translation

Ai ai, Aidê
Joga bonito que eu quero ver
Ai ai, Aidê
Joga uma coisa que eu quero
aprender
Ai ai, Aidê
Aidê, Aidê, Aidê, Aidê
Ai ai, Aidê
Joga menino que eu quero
aprender
Ai ai, Aidê
Joga pra mim que eu jogo pra
você
Ai ai, Aidê
Ô era eu, era você
Ai ai, Aidê
Joga bonito que o bom é você
Ai ai, Aidê
Joga certinho pra mim aprender
Ai ai, Aidê
Joga pra lá que eu não quero
apanhar
Ai ai, Aidê
Joga capoeira é bonito pra ver
Ai ai, Aidê
Capoeira é malícia, é mandinga, é prazer
Ai ai, Aidê
Como vai, como passou, como vai
vosmicê?
Ai ai, Aidê
Eu venci a batalha de Camugerê
Ai ai, Aidê
Ô era eu, era meu mano
Ai ai, Aidê
Aidê Aidê, cadê você
Ai ai, Aidê…

Ai ai, Aidê
Play beautifully as I want to see
Ai ai, Aidê
Play a bit as I want to learn

Ai ai, Aidê
Aidê, Aidê, Aidê, Aidê
Ai ai, Aidê
Play boy as I want to learn

Ai ai, Aidê
Play for me so I play for you

Ai ai, Aidê
Oh, it was me, it was you
Ai ai, Aidê
Play beautifully as you are good
Ai ai, Aidê
Play right for me to learn
Ai ai, Aidê
Play over there as I don’t want to take a beating
Ai ai, Aidê
Playing Capoeira is beautiful to see
Ai ai, Aidê
Capoeira is cunning, black magic and pleasure
Ai ai, Aidê
How’s it going, what happened, how are you?
Ai ai, Aidê
I won the battle of Camugerê
Ai ai, Aidê
Oh, it was me, it was my brother
Ai ai, Aidê
Aidê, Aidê, where are you?
Ai ai, Aidê

Of course, there are many different versions, and many will improvise the lines depending what is happening in the roda. There is no one correct version, there are no incorrect versions! It’s the variation that gives Capoeira its charm.

We leave you with this version that we like very much, it’s fairly slow so hopefully you can sing along and learn the verses:

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