Fela Anikulapo Kuti: 10 Years After, The Memory Lives On

“This country is a Gestapo country. How can Nigeria be talking about South Africa. You see, South Africa is better than Nigeria. I know so my brother. We are saying that whites are mistreating blacks in South Africa. Okay, that’s bad. That’s racizm. They have a reason to do it. In South Africa when they do it, they face criticizm. So, they watch themselves before they do it. But blacks are mistreating blacks in Nigeria. What’s the reason? That’s worse. Police beat people on the streets like dogs. It is in Nigeria they come to do apartheid committees. Nigeria is this. Nigeria is that. In America, they talk about Nigeria as if Nigeria is the greatest country in Africa. But, Nigeria is the worst country in Africa. The worst things happen in Nigeria. Worse than South Africa. There are many dangerous people in Africa. The President of Nigeria is dangerous. Shagari is dangerous. As a person himself, he is weak. But his administration and surroundings are dangerous. He is not dynamic. Peoples’ minds have gone low. Fooled. No food, no light, no water, no government. People are hungry. There is no solid situation. The roots are being lost. Our Senators are going to America everyday and coming back. And nothing is happening in my country. And the newspapers are crying armed robbers, thieves. So, the public think they have to take care of themselves. So any thief they think they see, they kill, they lynch by themselves. This is wrong. It’s very unAfrican. Africans don’t behave like that. These are the kind of criminal behaviour, criminal atmosphere our government has created in the country and in people that don’t have steady minds. What is happening in Nigerian prisons is nothing short of nacizm. What they were doing in the concentration camps in Germany in 1940. I saw it with my eyes. They were flogging boys at eight in the morning 24 strokes. They put sand on their body before they flog them. And this is not from court order o. This is just warders enjoyment. Everything is just nasty. This government threw my mother, Mrs Funmilayo Anikulapo kuti, out of the window. My mother who fought with her blood for this country…”

Fela Anikulapo kuti.
excerpt of interview on naijatube titled “Amazing”

“… Nigeria get money,
Foreign money for overseas,
Announcement start dey happen,
Newspapers carry dem paper,
Radio dey shout for studio,
Obasanjo turn vocalist,
Yar’Adua road manager,
Heavy government statement,
7 billion Naira missing,
Missing from overseas,
Foreign currency scandal,
Dem start to arrest everybody,
Doctors, lawyers, engineers, hustlers, photographers,
All of them for Kirikiri,
10 to 50 years in jail’
After one year inside jail,
Civilian government take over,
Dem release all of them,
Dem sey dem be innocent o,
2.8 billion Naira oil is missing,
Dem set up enquiry,
Dem sey money no lost o,
Dem dabaru everybody,
Supervisor Obasanjo,
Dem say make e no talk o,
Money no lost,
Dem shout again o,
Enquiry kon close o,
Election story nko,
Obasanjo plan am very well,
The same old politicians, wey rule Nigeria before,
The same politicians, wey spoil Nigeria before,
Obasanjo carry all of them,
All of them dey there now,
Two people dey fat with big money,
And the rest dey hungry,
Me I challenge Obasanjo,
Na wayo e dey all the time,
Make im carry me go any court,
I go open book for am anytime,
Na wayo government we dey,
E gba mi o,
Na rigirigima government we dey,
Ye paripa o,
Na padipadi government we dey o,
E gba mi o,
Wayo wayo,
Arrangi ni,
Add am together give me the answer,
Army arrangement.”


Fela Anikulapo kuti.
excerpt from track. (Army arrangement)

How time flies. It is difficult to believe that it is exactly ten years since Fela Anikulapo kuti left us for the world beyond. There is no doubt about it that Fela was a great man in all sense of the word. He can only be described with superlative adjectives. It will be no exaggeration to say that Fela was the greatest African musician and one of the greatest musicians that ever lived. Fela’s contribution to music was in no way less than that of Bob Marley. His contribution to music is invaluable. I have no doubts in my mind that Fela’s music will be played by generations of Nigerians to come. Undoubtedly, we can never have another black musician that can be talented and dynamic as Fela was. Through his music, he touched millions of souls. Though, he may not be with us in flesh, however, he will always be with us in spirit. His music is bound to live forever.

Fela was more than a musician. He was a philosopher and teacher. He was a soothsayer, talented political, social and economic analyst, in all sense of the word. He used his protest music as an effective weapon for mass education of Nigerians. With his music, and using simple and accessible language to all, he tried to enlighten us and opened our eyes us to the injustice in our society. In this sense, Fela was close to Bob Marley who also used his music to protest against injustice and oppression of blacks. And like the Afro-American prolific writer, James Baldwin, in one of his books, ‘The fire next time,’ Fela went further than just trying to enlighten us about the injustice taking place in our society, he challenged and summoned us through his music, to rise up and rebel against our oppressors.

A couple of months ago, I came across a documentary film (Amazing interview)about Fela on naijatube.com where he lamented on the injustice in Nigeria and what the military government did to him, his family, members of his band and Nigerians at large. Believe me or not, I found it difficult to control the tears rolling down my cheeks. You might want to verify this by logging onto naijatube and type Fela in the search column. If you have heart, I am sure you will be equally moved. Fela was bold enough to tell us about the problem and injustice in Nigeria. He has practically said everything that needed to be said about the predicaments of Nigeria and Nigerians.

With the exception of some of his tracks, I believe that Fela’s music should be listened to and the admonishing message should be reflected upon instead of dancing to them

However, ten years after the demise of “Abamieda,” as he was fondly called, it is sad to admit that nothing, I mean absolutely nothing has changed in Nigeria! It is incredible to believe that the atrocities and injustice which he devoted practically all his life and music career fighting against, still persist today in Nigeria!

Imagine, Fela sang about Obasanjo and Yar’Adua, accusing them of embezzlement, as far back as 1976. Now, the same Obasanjo has just finished serving a tragic eight year term and handed over to Shehu Yar’Adua’s brother, Musa Yar’Adua after organizing a fraudulent election! IBB after stealing billions of dollars that belonged to the Niger deltans is now a senior citizen of Nigeria traveling the length and breadth of the country with a presidential security envoy. Yar’Adua, recently, met with former governors accused of fraud in order to reach a peaceful agreement with them and discuss about Government of National Unity (G.N.U). He has also appointed himself, like Obasanjo, as the Minister of Petroleum that belongs to the Niger deltans. David Mark, a retired Military officer who is not only corrupt from head to toe but once said that telephone was a luxury meant only for rich people is now the Senate President, the highest government body that makes law! It’s still business as usual 30 years after Fela sang this song! Poor Fela must be turning in his grave now.

According to different reports, Nigeria has made more than $300 billion dollars from oil. But, up till now, the country can not boast of uninterrupted power supply, clean water, reliable infrastructures, affordable housing and medical services, security of lives and properties. e.t.c. There is hunger and poverty everywhere! Where is this money? What have our rulers done with this large amount of money? We are in a vicious cycle! We are just going round and round a labyrinth.

The bitter truth is that Nigeria is being ruled by evil and wicked people. It’s obvious that Nigeria needs a revolution. We need somebody that will wipe out all these people. There can’t be any dialogue with these people. I came to the sad conclusion that a lot of blood must flow before that country can move forward. The country needs to be “cleaned up!” The only way is to destroy them. I can’t see other better alternatives.

The greatest homage we can pay to Fela is so ensure that he did not die in vain. And the only way to do that is to do all within our best to correct not only the injustice in our society which he fought against till his last breath but also to ensure that those who are responsible for all the evil that befell us are brought to book, no matter how difficult and no matter how long it takes. It’s only after this that the soul of Fela will rest in perfect peace.

Finally, I want to suggest that a fund should be set up in honour of Fela. The purpose of the fund will include a museum devoted to Fela, propagating his music, philosophy, teachings and life all over the world. In addition, a substantial part of the fund should be devoted to strengthening democracy and human rights activities most especially in Nigeria and supporting of victims of oppression. A yearly or once in every two years award for human right activists to encourage them in their struggle should equally be considered as part of the objectives of the fund. Symposiums and concerts in his commemoration should be held all over Nigeria and major cities of the world where Nigerians reside. All these are not too much for a man who sacrificed himself to our course.

Thank you for all Fela. We really miss you. Your memory will always be indelible in our minds. May your soul rest in perfect peace.

Written by
Bode Eluyera
Join the discussion

2 comments
  • Omo Iya Aje, The Only Original OGOstin and Choirmaster of the whole universe. Miss you so much uncle Fela. Nothing will ever bring back those times at the African Shrine, nothing in Lagos will ever resemble the Empire community when Abami reigned in Moshalashi area of Lagos. When you were alive, our people did not appreciate you because they were blinded by mad, hypocritical morality. Many thought you were a mad man, a rascal. Now all the prophecies of the son of Anikulapo have all come to pass. If only dodo could still be 10kobo for one. If only Akara could still be 20kobo. If only bread could still be 50kobo, even the ponpolo ones. Nigeria has been "phucked" up, down, left and right. We are governed by a group of people without conscience who think they can die with money in their graves. Such a shame.

    I am glad I got to play in the Kalakuta compound when I was a kid. My dad appreciates and still cherishes your friendship.

    Omo Anikulapo, omo abile soro kile yanu, all time mojo man… rest in perfect peace my brother. Hope they get you supplies of "igbo" out there in heaven because I know that's where you are.