Today would have been Fela Kuti’s birthday and the fact that he may be gone does not mean we would not celebrate the legend posthumously.
With what is happening in Nigeria right now, young people relentlessly protesting the Nigerian government and the law officials, if there is one thing we are sure of, Fela would be so proud!
Fela Kuti was a well known ‘rebellious’ man. He stood up for what he believed in and used his music to push his activism. These are some of his songs that made jabs at the Nigerian government and its governance.
Sorrow, Tears And Blood
On this song, Fela sang about his experience with ‘law enforcement’ and members of the armed forces. They invaded his home and caused chaos, throwing his mum out of a window. She died later from injuries from that fall. “dem leave sorrow, tears and blood, dem regular trademark.”
On Zombie, Fela Kuti mimicked the law officials teasing them and likening them to zombies who cannot think for themselves and do whatever they are ordered to do. This song infuriated the law officials and led to an attack of his home. On the song, he sings “Zombie no go think, unless you tell am to think (Zombie)//Tell them to go straight…no break, no job, no sense”
V.I.P (Vagabonds In Power)
On this song, Fela Kuti sang about how there are different people in different places of power. He sang about government officials abusing their power and living off millions while others suffered.
He described people in authority and their lifestyle: “Him no know homeless people, him no know suffering people, him go dey ride best car…him go dey steal money, Na “Vagabond in Power!”
Confusion Break Bones
Fela sang about the state of Nigeria and referred to it as a a confused state. He said “I see many wrong things in Nigeria…When I say confusion, everything out of-ee control” He added “Shey police wey go help people, na dem dey burn burn so. Shey army wey go defend citizen, na dem dey burn burn so”
Beasts Of No Nation
Fela had just come out of prison when he recorded this song. In the song, he says something very interesting about the current president of Nigeria who at the time, was a military ruler allegedly responsible for throwing Fela in jail because he criticised him so much. Known then, as Major General Buhari, he passed a comment about Nigerians being indisciplined which Fela put in his song: I never hear that before oh make Government talk, ee-oh: My people are useless, My people are senseless, My people are indiscipline”
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