The Theory of Goat and Yam


Seun Anikulapo Kuti who is popularly known as “the big bird” proffers a song in conjunction with the Egypt ’80 band: Theory of Goat and Yam.

To explicate that Afrobeat extensively beats every genre within African continent and beyond, the legacy of Fela is generationally maintained with the core essence of Afrobeat, the message.

By extension, sermon to the people and cudgel to the ‘goat.’

Goodluck Jonathan

Seun’s Theory of Goat and Yam was written in the ‘black times’ and largely inspired by the former President of Nigeria, Goodluck Ebele Jonathan who in his interview said: “the reason why our politicians steal is because we, the people, are like farmers that keep our goats too close to the yam; so, because the goat is too close to the yam, the goat eats the yam.”

After this, Seun conjectured that the farmers must be eating grass if the goat are eating the yam. He sang:

“And the people just dey work hard
{Chorus} dey chop grass”

A maxim of the Yoruba people reads: “Instead of us all to gather and despise the thief, we keep saying the yam too has a hunchback. What has another man’s hunchback got to do with yours?”

Seun Kuti

If a yam planted in an improved yam pit to help the digging easy and by extension grows into the organic materials, which provides them with nutrients and moisture, abundantly ‘volunteer’ to germinate widely and beyond the improved yam pit is caught pilfering by a discontented, leering looking man; who is culpable of the fault?

This song is a satire that does not exaggerate the follies of the ‘Nigerian running crass’ to arrive at the main aim, rather, understated the vices. The simile being used by Jonathan is apt; for the people are taken as the ‘farmers’, while the politicians are compared to the ‘goats’.

The former is the owner, the latter is the robber. Should it be a controversial revolutionary song, Jonathan had earlier unveiled the garb from the masquerade’s face.

That the farmers keep the goat too close to the yam implies that the crude oil is not closely monitored by the people and that is why the politicians have taken it as their yams, eating it raw like WWE.

And the people working hard, chopping grass at the same time suggests burning the candle at both ends of the civil servants whose minimum wages barely sustain them.

Jonathan in essence was saying that the state of the nation had been totally hijacked from the people by ‘keeping the goat so close to the people.’

The people however have left the state to be run by corrupt people; an upshot of which is the food being eaten by the people: grass.

Seun’s instruments call on the people to get back on their feet and move on their own by providing the government of and by themselves.

This song is an enumeration of an obscure analogy of Jonathan that ‘if you leave goat with yam, e go eat yam’ and after pairing the yam with perfect combination like eggs, ‘e go digest am with crude oil’.

The goat’s discontentment is high that he doesn’t remember if he has children or not, rather, ‘e just dey chop de yam dey go’.



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