“So my sophomore year, one of my acting professors was this big crazy guy that did a lot of volunteer work around the world. He was like, really big into using theatre as therapy and stuff like that, and he goes to Nigeria every few years to work with the people there, and give aid, and use theatre to help them deal with the situation over there. And anyway, he taught us this song, which is a Nigerian lullaby, and its a round. And I don’t remember if he actually told us what it meant, no one in the class remembers what it meant, and we might even be singing the wrong words. But we like sing it, the people in my acting class, that took that class with him sing it. We use it as a warm up song before performances, because its pretty gentle on the voice, and also sometimes when we get together, and we’ve been drinking we sing it, because everyone knows the tune, and its a round so it sounds good without people having to know how to create harmonies and stuff like that.”
I find it remarkable that the song has really been re-purposed from a lullaby to essentially a drinking song by the group of actors, who really don’t know what the song means, and could be singing the wrong words anyway. I think it’s a testament that certain sounds, like harmonies are almost universally pleasing. I don’t believe the meaning of the song is the reason people in Nigeria still sing it to their children, but rather that the sounds are relaxing and pleasing to the ear. That’s why people from cultures as disparate as Nigeria and the United States can find so much enjoyment in the same tune.