Academic journal article Journal of Pan African Studies

An Ethnographic Approach to the Thematic Classification of Christo-Kegites' Songs in Nigeria

Academic journal article Journal of Pan African Studies

An Ethnographic Approach to the Thematic Classification of Christo-Kegites' Songs in Nigeria

Article excerpt


Christo-Kegites' songs refer to Christian songs that have been adapted by the kegites and sung in their shrines (their place of meeting) during gyrations. The lyrics of the songs are those of Christians, while the vocabulary items are those of the kegites. The Christian songs from which the songs are derived have their themes, such as God, Jesus Christ, the Holy Spirit, angels, the power of God, and the goodness of God. The kegites songs have themes such as the palm wine, the chief (the leader of the kegites), palm wine tapper, the kegites and beer. These songs are classified according to their themes. Just like the Yoruba community in which it originated, the kegites club is a singing society (Olukoju 1978).

Music is an essential part of their gyration (meeting) (Sowande 1970). It is an integral part of their activities. Every significant event is celebrated in songs, drums and dance, typical of the Yoruba community (Amorele 1987). Drumming, singing and dancing are traditional features of festivals and joyous occasions in the community (Peggy 1976). The kegites are traditionally a musical people (Daramola, 2008).

Historical Background

The Kegites' Club is a socio-cultural organisation that is non-religious and non-political. It was founded to uphold the invaluable heritage of African culture which was on the verge of extinction as a result of Western civilization which came through the colonization of Africa by Western nations. The club started in 1962 as 'the palm-wine drinkers club' by the students of the then University of Ife (now Obafemi Awolowo University (O.A.U.) at their temporary site, close to University of Ibadan. The motto of the club then was "The Basis of African Unity is Palm wine." The Obafemi Awolowo University branch was named 'World' Headquarters of the club, while that of University of Ibadan is the 'National' Headquarters. The club went into a temporary eclipse in the late sixties. It was later resuscitated in 1972 with the name "Kegites Confraternity". It has the keg as its symbol. In 1973, the club changed its name from "Kegites Confraternity" to the "Kegites Club." The motto of the club was later changed to "Unity in Diversity." The aims and objectives of the club include, the promotion, transmission and assimilation of a dynamic culture of Africa, promotion of socio-cultural activities and friendly interactions through "gyrations" and the encouragement to use things that are of African origin. They hold their "gyration" in the shrine.


Thirty songs made up of 11 (eleven) English songs and 19 (nineteen) Yoruba songs usually sung by kegites are examined in the work. These 'songs' have words relating to "palm-wine", "kegites", "chief-kegite", "palm wine tapper and beer". But basically, their lyrics are those of the Christian songs from which they were derived. Those songs in the Yoruba language were translated to their English equivalents for ease of analysis. The data were collected during the meetings of the kegites, popularly referred to as "gyrations". As for the reasons why Christian songs are adapted by kegites: one, many of the members of the kegites are 'Christians'; two, these songs are sung to avoid boredom, to attract new members who might, because of the drumming and singing, join them; and underscore the presence of the kegites on campus.

Two main campuses were used as sites of data collection. These are the University of Ibadan (which is the National Headquarters of the kegites) and the Polytechnic of Ibadan. A tape recorder and a camera phone were used to record the songs.

The songs were later transcribed for analysis. Some executive members of the kegites were also interviewed to gain insight into the reason why they sing happily in each 'gyration'. Such executive members were the Chief, the Feda, the Songito, and the 'elder'. We shall explain these terms below.

Hierarchical Organisation of the Club

The kegites are headed by the Chief, who is the president or chairman of the club. …

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