Political Music:Fela Anikulapo Kuti

When it comes to a political message in a music, artist such as Peter Tosh\

with songs like “Legalize It” and “Equal Rights/Downpresser Man” made very powerful political statements that had an impact on their society and the world as a whole. In the song “Equal Rights” he expressed the need for the people of Jamaica and black abroad to receive justice. He spoke about how everyone was “crying out for peace and none is crying out for justice”. He speaks on sacrifice,the struggle trying to get to the top but the question remains of how far it is from the bottom? Peter talks about the corruption and brutality they face from the police and the effects of crooked politicians who keep the people oppressed. yet there will come a time when they will have no where to run nor hide. The impact he had on the people  was one of leadership as he was often a voice for a people who had none. In the song “Legalize It” Peter touches on the issue of the legalization of marijuana and the benefits of it, he speaks on how it helps in the curing of glucoma, the benefits it provides for asthma and the revenue it generates can help to bring the country out of it’s poverty.

 Bob Marley was another notable figure whose music was politically motivated and who changed the world view of African music.Bob touched on everything from fighting oppression to prostitution and Aids in his native homeland. Songs like “Pimpers Paradise” detail the effects prostitution has on the young ladies of Africa, many of whom are forced into a lifestyle to provide for their families. “The Redemption Song” speaks to the government and about how they rob the poor people of Africa, enslave them and kill off their prophets. The daily struggles of the african are heavily detailed in many of his songs.

 Fela Anikulapo Kuti, born in Abeokuta Nigeria in 1938. A great singer-composer, sax, keyboard and trumpet player, Fela was also a bandleader and politician. Being one of Africa’s most controversial musicians, he continued to fight for the rights of the people  even in the face of adversity. He was often harrased vilified,and even imprisioned by the so called “government” of Nigeria. In 1954, Kuti joined the Cool Cats as a singer in the highlife band( highlife being the rage of the Lagos music at the time).  Fela created a whole new genre called “Highlife Jazz”.  Fela’s musical talents were honed at Trinity College of Music in Britian at the age of 19 and focused on wood wind instruments. The violenceand injustices he received from the government of Nigeria are detailed in almost everyone of his songs. The titles alone signify the type of messages to be expected on every album.”Ooooooooooooh, I was beaten by police! So much …How can a human being stand so much beating with club and not die?” A list of titles include “No Agreement”, “Zombie”, “Sorrow ,Tears and Blood” “Coffin for Head of State” and “Lady”.Coffin for Head of State- Explanation

A criticism of arbitrary/artificial religious & ethnic boundaries, and of religious hypocrisy- people who invoke god, but then commit atrocities, including Obasanjo (General) & Y’aradua (Leiutentent Colonel), two of Fela’s attackers.

The poor live in squalor while the pastor lives in luxury. Fela walks (waka), & sees the unhappiness of his people,and the corruption & greed of the colonial-influenced Nigerian government. Colonial culture confuses the African people.

In 1979, when Fela’s mother (a government official & activist) dies from injuries inflicted by the Army during an attack on Fela’s compound, Fela and his Movement of the People Carry an effigy of his mother’s coffin to the barracks of two noted Fela enemies, Gen. Obasanjo & Lt.Crnl. Y’aradua. As a protest, Fela & MOP put the coffin down, and force the army to take it (Obasanjo & Yaradua eventually help to carry it). It remains there.




~ by truthwyze360 on May 27, 2008.

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