Tongan Juggling Songs

Recorded by Barry Friedman

A few years ago we did a show on a cruise ship that was sailing between French Polynesia and The Tonga Islands. The trip sounded so cool - in fact, it takes a cool trip just to get us onto a ship for a week.

We had always heard a myth that the women of Tonga learned juggling in school and practiced it until they graduated. Well, it's true! After docking in Tonga, we headed for the center of town and juggled in the village square. We were instantly surrounded by older women who laughed because men weren't supposed to juggle!

Finally one brave lady made her way over to us and we started talking to her. She confirmed what we had heard and we begged her to give it a try. She was very shy, telling us that she hadn't juggled in over 40 years, but finally gave in. She took 4 balls and began throwing them in the most wonderful and perfect circular pattern imaginable. Then she began to sing. She told me that they always sang while juggling.

Fortunately, we happened to have our cassette recorder with us that day and we got permission to record the song. Enjoy a piece of Tonganese History, courtesy of The Raspyni Brothers, Cunard Cruise Lines, and a few women of Tonga.

Version one was sung by a large sturdy woman juggling 4 balls.
(50 seconds, about 400k)

Version two was sung by a group of young Tonganese girls each doing 3 balls.
(90 seconds, about 700k)

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