African Seeds

Ingonyama - he is a lion!

Seed

Ingonyama - he is a lion!

In Scouting for Boys, Baden-Powell introduces Scouts to a Zulu chant which he calls the Eengonyama chorus.

Eengonyama

Leader: Ingonyama - gonyama!
Chorus: Invubu! Yebo! Yebo! Invubu!

In English the chant means `He is a lion! Yes! He is better than that! He is a hippopotamus!'

B-P also devised a Scout dance using the Ingonyama chant and a Kikuyu dance, from the south of Kenya.

B-P concludes by saying that the Ingonyama chant should be `sung in a spirited way, and not droned out dismally like a dirge.' In the best Zulu style, the leader should yell the first part and the reply should be a deep bass shout.


Zulu chants

The Ingonyama chant is one of many ancient battle-cries of the Zulu warriors. Baden-Powell first heard this chant in Zululand (now the province of KwaZulu-Natal in South Africa).

In 1888, Captain Baden-Powell was part of a column searching for the Zulu chief Dinizulu, who was leading the Usutu people in revolt against the British colonists. The column was joined by John Dunn, a white Zulu chief, who led an impi (army) of 2000 Zulu warriors to join the British. B-P describes them as `fine strong muscular fellows with cheery handsome faces... their brown bodies were polished with oil and they looked like bronze statues.'

`I heard a sound in the distance which at first I thought was an organ playing in church and I tought for a moment that we must be approaching a mission station over the brow of the hill. But when we topped the rise we saw moving up towards us from the valley below three long lines of men marching in single file and signing a wonderful anthem as they marched. Every now and then one man would sing a few notes of a solo which were then responded to by an immense roar of sound from the whole impi, of deep base voices and higher tones singing in harmony.'

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Sources:
Baden-Powell, Scouting for Boys
Hillcourt, Baden-Powell: the two lives of a hero
Photo from The history of Scouting in South Africa by the Boy Scouts of South Africa, 1957