1913: Obscene war songs from the Ivory Coast

Maurice Delafosse was a French anthropologist and researcher who spent several years living and working on the west coast of Africa. Delafosse specialised in native languages and other cultural and behavioural aspects of tribal groups.

Writing in the first decade of the 1900s, Delafosse described how native Africans in what is now the Ivory Coast responded to threats or hostility, in this instance from the Okou:

“The women would assemble and, with their back to the enemy, make violent and exaggerated thrusts of the buttocks in the direction of the hostile party, while shouting “My arse for Okou!”

According to Delafosse, the menfolk would resort to a time-honoured tradition: the obscene song. He recorded some of the lyrics used:

“Okou is our enemy, cut off his head!”
“Okou is the excrement out of my backside!”
“Okou enjoys the sexual company of dogs!”
“The genitals of Okou are rotten and smell of feces!”

Source: Maurice Delafosse, Revue d’Ethnographie et de Sociologie, No. 4, 1913. Content on this page is © Alpha History 2019-23. Content may not be republished without our express permission. For more information please refer to our Terms of Use or contact Alpha History.