WAS FELA ANIKULAPO KUTI A PROPHET?
Jon Chikadibie Okafor.
I enjoy listening to the lyrics of the late Fela. No day would pass without my playing one of his songs. Incidentally, this piece is not to showcase my choice of music, rather it is to tell my fellow countrymen and women that the music of the legendry Fela has failed to become irrelevant as per happenings in Nigeria, our dear country.
Fela sang about army arrangement decades ago and we thought he was just singing for the sake of singing, or maybe to spite the military that visited sorrow, tears and blood on him. Obasanjo and his co travellers have been playing a silly game of hide-and-seek with our country. Handing over power to their choices of candidates, irrespective of what we, the people wanted. Just recently, Mr. Obasanjo out of his own arrogance decreed to foist Mr. Yar’dua on all of us-other candidates that declared interests to contest for the highest political post in Nigeria were frightened into oblivion. Obasanjo’s reason was that Mr. Yar’dua was the best candidate to lead Nigeria to the magical Eldorado. And I ask, since when did Nigeria belong to Obasanjo for him to be deciding who leads us? How could we allow a man that failed to manage his farm to lead us as a nation for 8years? And what did we the people do? Nothing! We are all afraid to stand up to the charlatans that ruin our lives. The actions of people like Obasanjo and co affects every one of us negatively, to say the least. Why must the Nigerian state keep recycling old, tired and failed politicians? A cursory look at the men and women that have strode the corridors of power since the First republic would reveal that it is the same group that has remained there till today! This is a case of parents handing over to their children. Are Nigerians really docile and free from care? Why can’t we stand up to these rogues and send them packing?
Talking of our leaders, let us take a look at the happenings in the National Assembly. The National Assembly represents the rot that is Nigeria; this is a case of pure evil, a monumental representation of the callousness of our “leaders”. As Fela sang, you people dey fat with big money and the rest dey hungry. The legislative arm of the Nigerian government represents a case of pure goatdom! [apologies to Prof. Okey Ndibe]. The greatest moral failing of the present crop of Nigerian leaders has its abode in the National Assembly. This is the place where supposedly peoples’ representatives feed fat on our commonwealth, oblivion to the pervading misery and hunger in Nigeria! A National Assembly filled with men and women afflicted with the worst cases of avarice, selfishness and a stupendous level of moral evil. You think I am exaggerating? Well, recently teachers in Nigeria downed their tools in protest over their poor remuneration-they were demanding for N20,000 as basic salary. The “peoples’ representatives” in Abuja rejected this-the amount was too much for teachers they reasoned! It is this same Lawmakers that pocket obscene amount of money daily for doing next to nothing! The recent car purchase scandal in the House of Representatives is a good example of the psyche of those honourable members. We all know how most of the men and women in the National Assembly found their ways into the place [most of them would remain eternally grateful to a shameless man named Maurice Iwu]. I am so saddened at what is happening in Nigeria, my heart bleeds at what our fellow country men and women in authority are doing to their fellow citizens. What is the problem with Nigeria?
We need to appreciate the magnitude of the evil that is plaguing Nigeria. The so-called leaders in Nigeria [most of them] represent man-made evil. Why are our roads so horrible? Why can’t we have regular power supply in Nigeria? Why can’t Mr. Yar’adua receive medical care in Nigeria? Why should Nigeria have a police force that arrests goats instead of bank robbers? Why should we have graduates roaming the streets jobless? Why should the youths of the Niger Delta and elsewhere be kidnappers instead of being engaged in good jobs? Why then do we have a government in place in Nigeria if it fails woefully in addressing our collective problems as a free people? Why should Mr. Yar’adua appoint Mr. Tony Anenih as the board chairman of the Nigeria Ports Authority? This Anenih character was the federal minister for works that failed in patching up old roads not to talk of constructing new ones! The roads were so bad that the man was flying from Lagos to his Benin City home! A man whose only credibility lies in fixing dodgy happenings in the PDP! Should we continue being passive while party members carve up our collective wealth? And we were told that president Yar’dua is a morally upright fellow? Is there anybody out there who still deceives himself that Yar’adua is any different from the rest of the PDP wolves? When are we the people going to have the guts to stand up to the people that mismanage our commonwealth? We need to wake up from this self-induced indolence and start holding these charlatans responsible for their every action! Fellow citizens, stop wasting your strength on prayers, this is our fight and we can win it! Nigeria belongs to all of us, not just to the Obasanjos, Yar’duas, Anenihs, Atikus, Babagindas, etc! This is our country and nobody can deny us that right. Let us stop living in fear in our own country. Americans fought for their freedom. The British in spite their conservatism as a people are known to be quick in demanding that whoever pillage their commonwealth be made to face the law. Today, we run from our country to go and live in the US, UK where people have died for freedom. Obasanjo advised Nigerians to pray to God for regular power supply, and we all kept quiet! Has this old man no shame? If Nigeria was a country where the rule of the law is thriving, Mr. Obasanjo would have been sent back to Yola prison to die! A man that wasted our wealth while lining his own pockets!
Finally, I hope that those that misrule Nigeria would have a change of heart. May it come to their conscience that it is a moral evil to steal government money. Nigeria has all it takes to be a developed nation, but we need to realize that we must first rid our country of the politicians whose sole intent is to rob us all blind! We need to make sure that those that mismanage our wealth be made to pay. We need to make sure we do not have as presidents those that prefer foreign hospitals to local ones! We need to checkmate the antics of the thieves in the National Assembly who sit in a round table to decide how much they are paid from our commonwealth! Please, let us stop suffering and smiling………
FELA IS THE GREATEST NIGERIAN DEAD OR ALIVE....BUT
I personally believe that FELA ANIKULAPO KUTI is the greatest Nigerian dead or alive on account of his TOTAL DEVOTION AND UNCOMPROMISABLE STAND IN HIS QUEST TO MITIGATE THE PLIGHT OF THE COMMON MAN, ERADICATE POVERTY AND ENSURE A FAIR AND JUST SOCIETY. This was reflected in his MUSIC, LECTURES, ACTIONS AND LIFESTYLE. He was one Nigerian COMPLETELY DEVOID OF TRIBALISM and everything he did was underpinned by TRANSPARENCY and TOTAL HONESTY. Yes, he smoked Nigerian Natural Grass in the full glare of the Media! And this is not an attempt to excuse the smoking side of his life.
Fela for me represents the man/woman at the very top of the pyramid of the CREME DE LA CREME of Nigeria inclusive of people like Tai Solarin, Gani Fawehinmi, Wole Soyinka, Aminu Kano, Chike Obi, Beko Ransome Kuti, Olikoye Ransome Kuti, Funmilayo Ransome Kuti, Ayodele Awojobi, Obafemi Awolowo, Isaac Adaka Boro, Ken Saro Wiwa, Pa Imoudu, Comrade Ola Oni etc. Hopefully, i can add Balarabe Musa and perhaps Adams Oshiomhole depending on his tenure in ruling Edo State and thereafter. This list is by no means comprehensive but i note that NOT ONE NIGERIAN MILITARY OFFICER DEAD OR ALIVE is included. This group dominates our official award!
Back to Fela. There is one issue where i COMPLETELY DISAGREE with him inspite of his eulogy of his activist mum: HIS STAND ON THE PLACE OF WOMEN IN SOCIETY.
I do not know if i can draw this analogy from far away VENEZUELA. I love Hugo Chavez in his determined drive to ERADICATE POVERTY IN HIS COUNTRY AND LATIN AMERICA but i REGRET HIS RECENT REFERENDUM WIN IN PAVING WAY FOR UNLIMITED TERM OF OFFICE. Someone in OTTA may have dented my trust irrevocably even when it involves admired and well loved (according to me please) personalities like Hugo Chavez.
Nevertheless, FELA remains the greatest Nigerian DEAD OR ALIVE in my humble opinion. And thank you for this piece.
Fela is a musical genus whose music legacy would remain evergreen.
As for being a prophet all I can say is that he was a passionate and committed social critic who held no prisoners when it come to critiquing the ills of our society and leaders then.
Unfortunately for us in Naija those ills that he criticised then have refused to go away from our society making his commentary then still very apt and relevant today.
For me, Fela was a musical genius. He said the right things in his music and critiques. However he was also a bundle of contradictions in his private life. Those public condemnations of government and government officials were at variance with his governance in the kalakuta republic. The autocracy and abuse that went on in his kakalakuta republic and music organisation were unbelievable. While he condemned Obasanjo and co of misgovernance, his musicians and session men also complained about many injustices including low-pay. His denial of AIDS was a clever way to cover his very selfish sexual urges, speading the disease to the many women he succumbed to ganja -fuelled orgies. Quite a number of those women equally spread the disease amongst other male suitors because he could not meet their sexual needs after a while. I know a few of those women who died of the dreaded AIDS infection in the last few years. I attended a Seun Anikulapo's conncert at hammersmith appollo in 2006 and we gathered that Seun's mum died a couple of days before then.
I personally take joy in his music till today, the truth must be said, Fela abused the abundance of talent bestowed on him on issues of sex, ganja, and women. Fela as a prophet? Uhn Uhn More like do as I say not like I do.
No, Fela wasn't a prophet but an incorruptible social critic who had the required gut to face the establishment.
The question whether he is a prophet clearly shows he is still misunderstood by some.
Villagers, lend me your ears! Was Fela a musical genius? Yes. Was Fela a social activist? Yes! Was Fela a prophet? Hell no!
A prophet foretells future events. Fela did not reveal the suffering and other calamities in Nigeria. Every Nigerian in Fela's time experienced the sufferings.
Using his musical prowess, Fela expressed his own view about Nigeria and he protested against the wrong doings by the authorities, thus a social activist.
Fela is actually NOT dead. With the recurring Yar Adua family and Obasanjo mess, His music is even more relevant now than when he sang them decades ago.
Nigerians are still suffering, smiling and enjoying rating as world's happiest people. Those researchers must be sarcastic I swear.
He was not a prophet. He sang about the things that happened (or that were happening) then. SADLY those things are still with us. It shows that if really there is country called Nigeria, that country is composed of people who never learn from both history and their mistakes.
On a lighter note, to even think that some Europeans or Americans thought that Fela was the president of Nigeria shows how irrelevant and stupid people like Obasanjo and Babangida are.
Nigeria= A failed state that will never make it (but individuals will continue to strive to survive and excel)
And I share this opinion wholeheartedly!...No greater Nigerian than FELA (ELENIYAN) KUTI...
REPORTER: A Nigerian senator just told me: "If even only 5000 Nigerians started imitating Fela, it would soon be very chaotic here!"
FELA: No, it would be a revolution!
Quoted in MOORE AND KAMARA 1981
Regard whether the late Fela Anikulapo Kuti was a prophet,social activist or misunderstood, his music today tell us the state of Nigeria today.
Authority people steal big
While the armed robber needs gun to rob,
the authority man needs a pen to rob
He's in charge of the money
His pen is mighter than the gun
If the gun steals 80,000 Naira
the pen will steal 2,000,000,000 Naira
But when that happens,
you won't hear anyone shouting "thief, thief, thief"
Taken form Authority Stealing.
Ye paripa O
Wetin do them
Taken from Original Sufferhead
Regardless of his lifestyle,this man has left a musical legacy and open the eyes of Nigerians, some of our Pastors,Imams can borrow a leaf from him.
Well, Fela may be anything but his music, as pointed out by various contributors to this piece attests to the fact that Fela used his talent to address injustice in the society. My favourite Fela song? VIP (Vagabonds in Power) as used to describe the political class has remained relevant through the political development or underdevelopment of Nigeria from the time of Joseph Wayas, Umaru Dikko, Adisa Akinloye etc in the second Republic to the present crop of thieves like Ibori, Lucky Igbinedion, Fayose, Saminu Turaki, Atiku Abubakar and Obasanjo.
Only one word sums up the political/military class in Nigeria today; Vagabonds.