Papa Legba, PapaFather Legba,Father Dyakout la lan do wThe load is on your back Ou Chita lan Gran ChemenYou sit at the crossroad W a ouvè baryè Won't you open the gate Pou LwayoTo the Spirits Papa LegbaFather Legba M inosan, nayiv oI’m innocent and naïve O Legba si Devotee of Legba O Legba se Divine Legba Kimache an weWho walks in the light
Legba is a Nago (Yoruba) Ancestor who is also known as Eshu-Elegba.He is from the Nago- Oyo Empire, now called Nigeria.In Haiti, there has been an E to A change in the pronunciation for Elegba. The E may also be dropped altogether and be pronounced as Legba. Legba is the spirit that carries communication from our world to the spiritual world. In Haiti, Sèvitè call him Papa because of the authority associated with the head of a household.Service to Legba spread from the Nago people to the Dahomean people.King Ashade is thought to have played a role in this because prior to his becoming king of Dahomey, he lived among the Nago people. Later, these two groups, Dahomeans and Nago, brought the belief in Legba to Haiti.
The dyakout in the song symbolizes the load of prayers and requests that Legba carries to God and to the other Lwas. The path that he guards as he allows messages to reach God and the Lwas is called the Grand Road, Gran Chemen. This is the reason why the song has him sitting at the Gran Chemen. The Grand Road is often synonymous with the Crossroad, which is symbolic of the point of intersection between our world and that of the Ancestors. It is that point of intersection that is guarded by Legba. Followers of numerous religions believe that a gate keeping spirit is necessary to facilitate contact between humans and spirits. In Roman religious tradition, that gatekeeper was called Janus. The Romans viewed Janus as the spirit that gave access to a new realm and likewise to a new year. When the Romans made the modern calendar, they named the first month of the year for Janus, which became January or Legba’s month. When belief in Christ spread from the Middle East to Rome, some of Janus’ attributes merged with the belief in Christ. Today, many Christians consider Christ to have gate-keeping functions like Legba.To many believers, Christ selects who does and who does not enter the kingdom of God. In the song, to appeal to Legba so that he may carry the singer’s demands to God and to the Lwas, the singer humbles himself or herself. The singer is said to be innocent and naïve but with Legba’s support he or she will walk in the light. Songs about Legba commonly talk about his walking because his gait is of special interest. He is considered to have one foot in our world and another in the spiritual world. For that reason, Legba’s gait is unsteady. To balance himself he carries a cane. This cane is called Atigbo in Dahomey.It is because of this that Papa Legba is also called Atibon Legba. In summary, the song is about Papa Legba having the burden of carrying everyone’s wishes to God and to the Lwas.When Legba does transmit our prayers and demands, our wishes are fulfilled.