We really can do much better instead of continuing to fall baba's hands year after year.
Fela‘s life wasn’t just about having some good kush and dropping reckless lyrics as a result of the high. His life was a very conscious choice about what was right and going up against those who simply weren’t right.
It didn’t matter who these persons were, Fela spent many of his days singing against them, appearing in court, chilling in jail (funnily, the current president jailed him back in the ’80s) … all for the sake of the people.
As such, it was no surprise that over a million people attended his funeral; his death hit many of us deeply and his impact remains so strong till tomorrow.
These were some of the reasons Fela was the person he was until his death in 1997:
If other people roll in their graves when something they would have strongly opposed to happened when they were alive, Fela would puff on one and go after those responsible for disturbing his rest in the great beyond.
And going by the state of the polity; a dire economic situation that has seen an increase in the cost of living while the naira’s value continues to decrease, Fela would’ve been having a field day by now.
You may be saying to yourself, ‘Fela would’ve been 78 at the moment, how active could he possibly be if he were alive?’
King Sunny Ade celebrated his 70th birthday last year and he doesn’t look like someone that would suddenly fall and die while performing on stage for hours.
Tony Allen is in his mid-70s but the legendary drummer still performs and, in his words when interviewed late last year, ‘After 45 minutes, I’m just warming up.’ Also, Fela has been quoted as saying, ‘Without Tony Allen there would be no afrobeat.’
Meanwhile, Allen had this to say about Fela’s lyrics and the polity: ‘If you check most of his lyrics that he sang in the 70s and 80s, that is what is happening right now. War everywhere. And because of what? Power. And power that is lopsided. There is no leader in Africa, only president, there for himself. Not for the people.
‘That is what [Fela] sang that and that is still the case. Europe has their own style of manipulating the people but it’s not like [in Africa]. We have the junglish way of manipulating. Very junglish, you know? Like in a jungle. That’s what we have.’
So it would be no surprise if Fela was alive today and called out Buhari and a long line of government officials while singing ‘we don tire to carry dem shit’ over and over again. Considering that Buhari put him in jail in 1984 until he was released by Ibrahim Babangida almost two years later, you can only imagine what would have gone down since May 2015.
And being 78 if he were still here with us wouldn’t stop him.
Audu Maikori was taken into custody on Friday night, sparking a #FreeAudu campaign as the arrest supposedly stems from his part in the protest against the killings in southern Kaduna.
His arrest comes almost a fortnight after music icon, 2face Idibia had to call off the February 6 protest march against bad governance; with the Police PRO coming on TV to confirm that authorities had indeed reached out to 2face to stop the protest.
These recent cases are the sort of happenings Fela actively fought against. The legend was all about seeing the people have a voice and if his voice and songs would serve as that voice for them, he was always ready to lend it no matter the consequences.
A whistle-blower recently turned down his commission for helping to recover about one billion naira; a rare gesture that would make Fela smile in his grave.
But news of the discovery of money amounting to $9.8m in the house of Andrew Yakubu is the type that would get the late Afrobeat legend going in hard on those he deemed corrupt.
Fela was never shy of mentioning names; even name-checked the much-loved MKO Abiola on ITT, and one reckons how the songs he’d put out today would sound like – Alison of Wonderland, Kwara for Naira, Niger-Delta Wahala and more.
Only recently, two soldiers were recorded while they mercilessly beat a disabled person all because that human being was wearing camo clothing; a disabled person.
While the soldiers responsible for the beating have been punished, it is saddening that men who should serve to protect the nation and her people instead flex their muscle on the defenseless.
It was such behaviour that always got Fela in his feelings and spurred him to protest against the government of the day; even well after his dying day seeing as the words of his music regarding governance, corruption and injustice still ring true today.
Sadly, all the words Fela sang in his songs; especially ‘Zombie’ (which came before the Kalakuta incident that led to his mother’s death), ‘Unknown Soldier’ (which was as a result of that incident) and ‘ITT (International Thief Thief), remain painfully relevant today; some 30 years after they were recorded and about 20 years after his death.
This just goes to show how Nigeria has remained in the dark age without even realising it; and this is 40 years after his Kalakuta Republic was attacked by a thousand soldiers.
We really can do much better instead of continuing to fall baba’s hands year after year.
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