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Sola Olorunyomi


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Afrika Shrine

1Fela’s place of worship and nightspot. The aspect of worship started at the Empire Hotel (Fela’s former shrine), but was given full expression when he moved to Pepple Street. During musical interludes, Fela breaks off to worship with band members and acolytes.


2This is the name by which Fela’s music came to be known starting in the late sixties. And though the name survives, in a 1992 interview I had with him, Fela denounced the nomenclature as “a meaningless commercial nonsense with which recording labels exploited the artist.”


3Street where the Criminal Investigation Department is located; it also became the title track of one of his albums—Alagbon Close.

Area Boy

4Term used to describe urban unemployed youth, prone to forming gangs and extorting money as a way of “coping” with city life. According to Mr. Jiti Ogunye, one of Fela’s attorneys, the origin of the term can be traced to Fela’s kalakuta Republic and the Afrika Shrine, where members of the commune used the phrase to make a distinction between their group and rascally actions embarked upon by neighborhood gangs—the boys in the area, or “Area Boys.”


5Female godhead of some nationalities in Malawi.


6Primarily to eat; can also mean to embezzle funds.

Comprehensive Show

7Performance on Saturday nights at the Afrika Shrine. It is also the “Divination Night”—day of worship when the Egypt ’80 Ensemble dancers come on stage. The outdoor “Comprehensive Show” does not include the worship ritual.

Correct Person

8Persons considered ideologically in tune or simply positively dynamic.

Egypt ’80 Band

9The name of Fela’s band. Fela constandy changed the name to reflect its musical and ideological orientation at different points in time; hence, from the early sixties, the band had evolved through Highlife Rakers, Koola Lobitos, Nigerian 70, and African 70. After Fela’s death, the original band was briefly renamed Fela’s Egypt 80 Band but has now settled for Seun Anikulapo-Kuti and the Egypt 80s.


10A home-made alcoholic drink at Kalakuta Republic and the Afrika Shrine; it is brewed by boiling marijuana leaves with sodium.


11Acronym for the Second World Black and African Festival of Arts and Culture.


12Yorùbá word for history story, or fiction.


13Acronyms for “Johnny Just Drop” and “Johnny Just Come.” The JJD is a cultural pervert, one who is alien to his own culture or at times feigns ignorance of local customs. JJC implies the unpracticed steps of the newcomer, who is generally the uninitiated.


14Sunday shows when he could jam with other musicians— including his son, Femi.


15The “cell” where an erring member of the Kalakuta Republic is kept. More of a designated space than a conscious architecture; in the seventies, it was indicated with twine.

Kalakuta Republic

16Fela’s communal residence created out of the desire to accommodate “every African escaping persecution.” “Kalakuta” was derived from the name of his prison cell of 1974; he also noted and justified its Swahili interpretation of “rascally” The word “republic” was later added to it “because I didn’t agree with that your Federal Republic of Nigeria created by Britishman.” The exigency of political activism led to his having to live in many places, but his more notable residences after Surulere, in Lagos, are named chronologically here: Kalakuta I, number 14A Agege Motor Road; Kalakuta II, number 1 Atinuke Ola-banji Street, Ikeja; Kalakuta III, number 7 Gbemisola Street, Ikeja.


17Used as a refrain or chorus but denoting insidious moves and motions—whether in the boardroom or in interpersonal relationships.

Lady’s Night

18Tuesday shows when females could enter free of charge.


19What? (as question); So what (as an offensive rebuttal).


20Nigerian Natural Grass— a parody of Nigerian Natural Gas — meaning marijuana; Fela’s counter lexicon to the non-“Indiancss” of his variant of hemp.

No Jonesing

21An omnibus phrase initially used as a form of reprimand against drug addicts who might be unable to control the effect of their drug intake or its withdrawal symptoms. Marijuana is declassified as drug at the Afrika Shrine and the Kalakuta Republic.

Ògá Pátápátá

22The overall boss.

Opposite People

23Persons considered reactionary or anti-revolutionary


24Yoruba word for a deity or deities, but in its common usage, an Olórísà also implies a worshipper of divinities that might necessarily not be deities. Of all the ancestral forms of the Black Diaspora, Òrísà worship remains the most popular


25A Caucasian or persons with light pigmentation.


26Posturing, or feigning an offensive mood.

Short break

27Not an interlude; on the contrary, it implies the end of the day’s performance.


28A shady deal.

Yabbis and Yabbing

29To declaim, Verbal rebuttal that could move from light-hearted banter to a crude ribaldry; but Yabbis is its own limit and its license goes only as far as there is no physical assault, following the Kalakuta dictum: “Yabbis no case, first touch na offence.”


30Being “guyish” or trying to appear modern in a brash manner.


31Name given to the military; denotes the regimentation and lack of personal initiative associated with the military ethics of “obey before complain” and “order from above.”

© IFRA-Nigeria, 2005

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