Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Visen om Vesle Hoa - Hottentotti

Virtanen was one of the first Finnish rock groups to perform their own material and in Finnish language. The group's sound was simplistic and raw and the lyrics in the songs dealt with themes unheard before. On their first album 'HAL-00' in 1974 they sang about "Hottentotti" (The Hottentot). It was an old childrens song and the first Finnish version was done by actor duo Maikki Länsiö and Esa Saario already in 1961. It told a story of young African boy saving his village from the assault of the enemy tribe. The Hottentots were really the Khoikhois ("men of men"), a Khoisan ethnic group of southwestern Africa, closely related to the Bushmen. They were traditionally known to white Dutch colonists as the Hottentots, a name that is currently generally considered offensive. The word "hottentot" meant "stutterer" in northern dialect of Dutch. The original "Hottentotti" -song was written by a Norwegian Thorbjørn Egner in 1954 and it was called "Visen om Vesle Hoa" (A song about Vesle Hoa (the name of the young hero in the song)). Egner was a playwright, poet and composer who did several children songs that became popular all over Scandinavia. As sign of the 'politically correct' times, the song about Vesle Hoa was recently removed from a new edition of Norwegian childrens song book, for being racist and offensive.

p.s. The name 'Virtanen' is very, very common last name in Finland. By coincidence, this "Hottentotti" -song brings together the most famous Virtanens in present day Finland; Pertti 'Veltto' Virtanen (singer) , who is a Member of Parliament and Jukka Virtanen (lyricist, not member of the group), who is a prominent producer, playwright, entertainer, etc.

Updated on 18.09.2010: added thr first Finnish version by Maikki Länsiö and Esa Saario.

Here's the triplet:

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