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Ging Gang Goolie

Ging Gang Goolie or Ging Gang Gooli is a gibberish scouting song, said to be written by Robert Baden-Powell during the 1st World Scout Jamboree.[1][2] It is popular among the Boy Scouts and Girl Guides.


  • Origin 1
  • Recordings 2
  • Lyrics 3
  • References 4
  • External links 5


During the Second Boer War, Baden Powell listened to songs in African languages. The nonsense lyrics of "Ging Gang Goolie" might have been inspired by these songs.[3] Baden-Powell is said to have written this song during the 1st World Scout Jamboree in 1920. The song used gibberish to ensure that children from different countries could sing the song irrespective of what their mother tongue is. The tune is based on an extract from Mozart's Symphony No.1, composed when he was eight years old.

Dorothy Unterschutz, a Canadian Scout Leader from Edmonton, later invented a story as an explanation for the song's lyrics. The story "The Great Grey Ghost Elephant" was published in Scouts Canada's "The Leader" magazine in 1991 (June–July issue, Page 7).[2] The story talks of a "Great Grey Ghost Elephant", who wanders in the African lands every year, after the rains. The villagers believed that if it went round their village, the village would have a prosperous year, and if it went through it, there would be drought. The elephant had been going through the village of Wat-Cha for the past three years, and therefore the villagers decided to come up with a plan to deter it from entering their village. It was decided that the village leader Ging-Gang and his men would frighten the elephant by standing in its path and shaking their shields and spears. The medicine man Shayla and his men would cast magic spells, and frighten the elephant by producing the "Shally wally" sound by shaking their magical equipment. When the elephant arrived, the villagers gathered started shouting the names of their leaders. They were successful in their plan, and the elephant went around the village, making the sound "Oompah, oompah". The villagers celebrated by singing the song "Ging Gang…".[2] Around the campfire the scouts can be divided into section and the song is sung in rounds. It makes for a tremendous rousing experience


The song has been recorded by a number of artists, including The Scaffold, The Tremeloes, The Megatons, Karl Denver, and "Dirk and Stig" (Eric Idle and Rikki Fataar, assuming their identities from The Rutles). It was also used in the animated movie, Asterix Conquers America, sung by Eric Rapton & B.O.D.G. in the 'Victor & Hugo - Bunglers in Crime' episode 'Scout's Dishonour', and in an eponymous episode of Boardwalk Empire.


The lyrics of the song are as follows:[1][3]

Ging gang goolie goolie goolie goolie watcha,
Ging gang goo, ging gang goo.
Ging gang goolie goolie goolie goolie watcha,
Ging gang goo, ging gang goo.
Hayla, hayla shayla, hayla shayla, shayla, oh-ho,
Hayla, hayla shayla, hayla shayla, shayla, oh.
Shally wally, shally wally, shally wally, shally wally
Oompah, oompah, oompah, oompah

Many variant forms have sprung up over the years.


  1. ^ a b Grenda Walton (2011). The House on the Hill-Lake District Revisited: Liverpool Orphanage 1944-1952. AuthorHouse. p. 140.  
  2. ^ a b c """A história da canção "Ging Gang Goolie (in Portuguese). Corpo Nacional de Escutas. Retrieved 6 November 2011. 
  3. ^ a b "Ging Gang Goolie - a Scouting Song". h2g2. BBC. 8 September 2006. Retrieved 22 November 2006. 

External links

  • Ging Gang Goolie Grandfolkies - Audio version of the song (Real Audio and lyrics)
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