Ffe Mwe, Mwe Ffe


Text adapted by Joan Szymko from various sources

In 2013 I led a drum circle at a Portland First Unitarian Church event where folks worked on making gifts for members of FUUC's sister church program in Uganda. In preparation, I went looking for traditional Ugandan rhythms to introduce in the circle and came across this Bantu adage: ffe mwe, mwe ffe—"they are us and we are them." — Joan Szymko

"Ffe Mwe Mwe Ffe" begins with a simple unison call, the energy of community coming together for the common good grows with each interwoven and layered rhythm that enters; most important being the drum rhythm, gwanga mujje—"come to my rescue." A soloist then introduces Mahatma Gandhi's inspiring words, "be the change you wish to see" . The message of the work shines brightly:  compassion begins when we see ourselves in each "other. "  Premiered by Aurora Chorus in December, 2013.

The TTTBBB verison was created for professional ensemble, Cantus, especially for their 2016 concert series, "Will You Harbor Me."


Item Voicing/Instrumentation Duration Price Audio View Score Quantity
Licensed PDF
SSAA, hand drum 3:15 $2.00 https://joanszymko.com/sites/joanszymko.com/files/audio_samples/14%20Ffe%20Mwe%2C%20Mwe%20Ffe%20%28ssaa%29%20_%20JS-053.mp3
Licensed PDF
SATB, hand drums 3:15 $2.00 https://joanszymko.com/sites/joanszymko.com/files/audio_samples/JS-053MX.mp3
Licensed PDF
TTTBBB, hand drums 3:15 $2.25 https://joanszymko.com/sites/joanszymko.com/files/audio_samples/Ffe%20Mwe%2C%20Mwe%20Ffe%28TTTBBB%29JS-071%20copy.mp3
JS-053 digital purchase only N/A
JS-053MX digital purchase only N/A
JS-071 digital purchase only N/A
JS-053.1D set percussion parts (3), available from the composer N/A

Audio Credits: 

SSAA: Aurora Chorus, Joan Szymko Conductor / SATB: PDX Studio Choir / TTTBBB: Cantus


Joan Szymko

Ffe Mwe, Mwe Ffe

text sources; Bantu adages, Gandhi, Mother Teresa, Joan Szymko

Ffe mwe, mwe ffe

gwanga mujje

Be the change you wish to see.

You can start by looking at me

and knowing that I am you

and you are me.

Ffe mwe, mwe ffe
gwanga mujje

We are them and they are we.

I am them and they are me.

We belong to each other.*

Ffe mwe, mwe ffe

gwanga mujje

* Mother Teresa quote in its entirety: "If we have no peace it is because we have forgotten that we belong to each other."


Ffe mwe, mwe ffe / they are us and we are them
gwanga mujje / come to our rescue


Licensed PDF

CANTUS: Ffe Mwe, Mwe Ffe by Joan Szymko