As a child, I remember very well singing that song while clasping my hands rhythmically with that of a playmate. Up, down, Up down…
“There are seven Rivers in Africa,
Seven Rivers in Africa
Nile, Niger, Senegal, Congo, Orange, Limpopo, Zambezi…
Then we also added and I don’t know why
Azikiwe, Wolowo, Tafawa Balewa,
Onye ocha wepu aka n’okpu eze (white man remove your hand from the King’s crown)
I was humming this song recently when it hit me; Seven rivers in Africa? How? Only 7 in the entire continent?
I mean even in the akuko ifo that we were told growing up, the hero usually crossed 7 rivers and 7 forests to kill the villain and rescue the captives. Do you mean, he had to go round the whole of Africa just to cross seven rivers? I think not.
It’s either the author of this song was a school teacher back in the days who was trying to help his students memorize the names of the largest rivers in the entire African continent or the beginning of this song was written by an Oyibo man who just ‘dashed‘ Africa seven rivers.
It really does seem like we’ve been innately programmed through this song to believe that Africa has only 7 rivers, because if you ask around, the default response to how many rivers do you have in Africa might just be ‘7’! At least I know about River Benue, Aba River, Anambra River and several other rivers in Naija.
Having looked up the definition of rivers, it refers to a large body of water flowing into another body of water. And the difference between a River and a Stream is that a River is wider, deeper and longer. So it’s a thing of size.
Talking about body of water, there’s this particular one in my village known as Mmili Obiaja. I’ve never been to Mmili Obiaja before but there are some very interesting stories surrounding that body of water. Like the one about a tree falling and blocking the road to the river when a deity is passing. The stories are so plenty shaa, I wish I can remember more but let me consult with my elders first and I’ll come back with authentic gist. I might even visit and take a few pictures myself.
I hope you get the gist though, there are MORE than 7 rivers in Africa, actually there are over 67 major rivers in the African continent…
So do we re-write the song? Or allow it fade it into oblivion???