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Afrobeat!

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Sola Olorunyomi

1. Tradition and Afrobeat

Texte intégral

  • 1 . See Olu Oguibe's “The Voice,” an excerpt from the collection, A Gathering Fear (Yaba-Lagos: Kraft (...)

That voice sprouted again and
Crawled into their skulls and began to howl
His voice walked ahead and came behind
And rocked the earth like storm...
They did not return
The voice survives...
Olu Oguibe1

  • 2 . From the poet's unpublished collection, “Whispers of the Dust.”

Cloud without shade
Cumulus without shower
Saturday night at the bard’s
An overcast of cannabis
Sola Olorunyomi2

1Far beyond the Pepple Street venue of his performance, the bass drum’s deep throbbing and the wailing horns of Fela’s Egypt ’80 Band could be heard resonating into this silent Lagos night. As we inched into the swanky marijuana-fumed atmosphere of the Afrika Shrine (Fela’s nightspot), an all-female choreography could be seen attempting the impossible task of duplicating the rather racy rhythm, the twists and turns of the track Army Arrangement. A chorus in the background kept crooning:

One day go be one day
One day go be one day
Those wey dey steal-i money for (Africa) government
One day go be one day

  • 3 . Unlike in the recorded album, the word ‘government’ is occasionally substituted for ‘Africa’ in l (...)

A day of reckoning is coming
A day of reckoning is coming
For those plundering (Africa’s) government’s resources
A day of reckoning is coming3

2Then the beat descended into a repose, as the singers also took a cue by stretching out the last line—“One-day-go-be-ooone-daaaaay” I eagerly turned to a colleague and asked: “Did you see that?” I had meant the fusion of the choreographic idea with the lyrics. “Kind of funky” he replied after pondering for a while, and I knew he was only trying to be polite though a very dynamic moment had been lost in that short phrase.

3Many other gestures, too, by both African and Western ‘expert’ observers who seek to describe Fela’s Afrobeat performance and context remain largely breezy and faddish. Quite often, these experts have been too content to gloss over Afrobeat’s definitive moment simply with the usual refrain, “jazzy and African-Latin flavor,” without giving it the benefit of its nuances.

  • 4 . See Philip Tagg: “Open Letter: ‘Black Music’, ‘Afro-American Music’ and ‘European Music'” in Popu (...)

4Africa, then, in the logic of this stereotype, comes over merely as a repository of the call and response and improvisation, while the West, ostensibly supplies the premeditated notations. It is the sort of generalization that presents even a formally trained musician such as Fela as incapable of enduring processuality just as the Euro-American is consigned only to the cold calligraphy of sheet-scored music without the capacity for “life” and spontaneity I argue against this primarily from an ideological point of view even though such assertions are equally technically false. The likes of Bach, Handel, Mozart and Beethoven were all renowned not only as composers but also improvisers, whose works, according to Philip Tagg, were canonized (scored) as the music’s purest form of concretion— and were later suffocated by being locked in institutional preserving jars called “Conservatories.”4

  • 5 . This view was expressed by Fela in a 1992 interview with the author.
  • 6 . Graeme Ewens in “The Highlife Zone,” A Celebration of African Music (London: Guiness Publishing L (...)

5We may attempt to limit the scope of the Afrobeat genre by a definition based on its intrinsic musical qualities, but its ultimate meaning can hardly subsist without a consideration of its reception, which, as Karin Baber notes of the popular arts in general, are based on conventions—and those conventions are seldom obvious by looking at the art object alone. This theme is further expanded in Chapter Five. The intervention of the audience in a canon formation of this sort can be quite insistent as the examples of Afrobeat and Highlife have shown. Although Fela had used the term “Afrobeat,” he eventually denounced it as “a meaningless commercial nonsense” with which recording labels exploited the artist.5 The name persists only due to the insistence of Afrobeat’s audiences, spanning the avid fan to music reviewers and the media, such that, at the present, varieties of this form continue to foreground Fela’s “roots” Afrobeat as its grounding metaphor. In the case of Highlife, Graeme Ewens notes: ’Yebua Mensah, brother of E.T Mensah and a co-founder of dance band in highlife, told the writer John Collins how the name caught on in Accra. “The term highlife was created by the people who gathered around the dancing clubs such as the Roger Club, to watch and listen to the couples enjoying themselves... the people outside called it highlife as they did not reach the class of the couples going inside, who not only had to pay a relatively high entrance fee of about seven shillings and sixpence, but also had to wear full evening dress, including top hats if they could afford it.”’6

  • 7 . See Sylvia Esi Kinni, “Africanisms in Music and Dance of the Americas,” in Goldstein (ed.), Black (...)
  • 8 . Graeme Ewens, A Celebration, p. 80.
  • 9 . In a similar vein, Abiola Irele notes of a tendency in literary criticism to define Africa's crea (...)

6Each musical idiom, like every cultural production, has always evolved from antecedent forms, and in an electronic age such as ours, the question to pose is how this or that form is appropriated to create a new musical register. Of jazz, for instance, Esi Kinni-Olusanyin notes that although it “descended from the blues and ragtime, many elements of the work song, spiritual, and ring shout are incorporated into it.”7 In the same way that Highlife drew its form as “one of the first examples of fusion between the old world and the new; and a prototype for all African pop,”8 Fela’s Afrobeat also tapped a myriad of sources ranging from basic Nigerian traditional rhythms, Highlife, jazz and Latin elements—over a structure that is essentially a criss-cross African rhythm. However, this process is quite tenuous and the attempt here is not to define his artistic production in relation to an ostensibly foreign mainstream “corpus which constitutes the canon against which it [his form] is measured.”9

  • 10 . 10. Samuel Ekpe Akpabot in Foundation of Nigerian Traditional Music (Ibadan: Spectrum Books, 1986 (...)

7In many traditional African cultures, including the Egba Yorübá in which Fela was raised, music and dance are intrinsically tied to everyday experience. This process could be of a sacred event, thereby incorporating ritual elements, or a secular one, involving music and dance as accompaniments to social gatherings such as sport, general entertainment and, at times, an instrumental jam session. Some of the following have been identified as general practices of the tradition: call-and-response pattern of vocal music; the bell rhythm of the gong, which denotes time lines; the predominant use of the pentatonic scale; the speech rhythm growing out of tonal inflections of African words and chants; the use of polymeters and polyrhythms, and musical instruments used as symbols.10

  • 11 . Ibid., p. 58.
  • 12 . Akin Euba suggests that Ayan may be regarded as the ultimate ancestor of all drummers. See Essays (...)

8Some traditional mythologies guiding both instrumentation and musical presentation, in certain instances, continue to serve as cultural survivals and forms of retention, even with the current dispensation of popular music. This is at times made manifest in the animist conception of musical instruments and the attempt by musicians to emboss on them a vernacular idiom, so to speak, to make them “talk.” This attitude is true of many African communities, and Sam Akpabot alludes in this connection to a Yorùbá mythology “that only trees located near the roadside are suitable materials for the construction of skin drums because they overhear humans conversing as they walk past and are therefore able to reproduce their language.”11 Whatever the validity of this claim, the ancient Yorùbà dictum, Àyànàgàlû, asòrò ígí (Àyàn of Agalu, who speaks through the medium of wood), is suggestive of the kinship of music and the reconstitution of speech pattern.12

  • 13 . Ibid., p. 5.
  • 14 . Ibid., pp. 9-11.

9Therefore, drums—in particular—and other musical instruments are deemed to be repositories of language, with the different Òrìsà (deities) expressing marked preferences of drum decoder for invocatory purposes. Hence, Obatala’s quartet includes Iyánlá, Íyá Àgàn, Keke and Afeere which form the Igbin ensemble used by its devotees,13 while Sango’s preference is the Bàtá ensemble of Ìyá ìlù, Omele abo, Kùdi and Omele Ako. With these are the Ìpèsè, Orunmila’s special drum, and Àgéré; Besides Agogo (metalophone) and sèkèrè (traditional rattle) of Ògún. Beyond the fact of the drum’s centrality in most of Africa’s orchestra, this aesthetic-religious function probably explains the prevalence, among the Yorùbà, of tension drums with their wide range of tonal configuration and a cultural addiction to “talking with musical instruments since Yorùbà is a tone language, musicians have been able to develop a highly sophisticated use of musical instruments as speech surrogate.”14 The complexity of this form is most noticeable in the traditional all-drum orchestra which may have between two to twelve drummers, with each assigned parts, and which together create a musical rhythm that exhibits syncopation, polymeter and polyrhythm—in an atmosphere where all the other arts could be aptly represented.

  • 15 . Cited from The Oxford Companion to Music by Michael J. C. Echeruo, in Victorian Lagos: Aspects of (...)
  • 16 . This charge was made by Rev J. Vernal in Church Intelligence and Record of January 1889.

10While neo-traditional forms such as Àpàlà and Sákárà were part of Fela’s growing experience, it was in the direction of the more broad-based Highlife that he moved, having also played with Victor Olaiya’s band, a prime exponent of Highlife in Nigeria from the 1950s. However, the features of protest and rebellion that later characterized his art predate this era. As early as the 19th century Lagos was the hub of “pop” concerts which the nascent cultural nationalists would later take as an important reference point. Although the “pop” concert in Europe was, historically, a lower middle class affair, and had quite distinct features from the Lagos concert of this period,15 the Lagos elite showed considerable interest in this entertainment genre. But the pivot of this early concert was the Mission House, so much so that there were open conflicts between the Catholic Mission and the Church Missionary Society (CMS) as regards poaching of members of the congregation through the lure of concert. The Catholic Mission was once accused of trying to lure Protestant members to its fold on this account.16

  • 17 . See Echeruo Aspects of Nineteenth Century Lagos Life (London: Macmillan, 1977), p. 68.
  • 18 . Ibid., p. 70.

11However, once these concerts took a secular tone, they were disparaged as heathen. The Lagos Observer of January 18, 1883 criticized this trend, which it described as “exhibition of low forms of heathenism.” Shortly after this, it was further described as “rude expressions in the native language and dancing of a fantastic kind.” The Lagos street of this era was rich and ebullient with drama festivals, masquerades, bards and musicians, and the colonial government was constantly in conflict with the artistic community and had to ban local drumming at a point.17 Echeruo notes that this cultural event helped to develop a culture of art review with a level of sophistication that could only have been the result of exposure to music and music criticism in Europe, or else through Lagos and Abeokuta.18 As often happened then, the attempt was primarily to approximate the standard of the European center. Echeruo further details the pronouncement of a reviewer of St. Gregory’s Grammar School’s chorus rendition of Fanfare of Mirlitous in the Observer of December 3 and 17, 1887, which stated: “Orpheus could not have done better.”

  • 19 . Michael J. C. Echeruo in “Concert and Theatre in Late Nineteenth Century Lagos.” See Nigeria Maga (...)
  • 20 . Ibid.

12Another factor outside the missions that was favorable to the growth of the concert in Lagos, writes Echeruo, was the presence of a small, well-educated and “cultured” elite made up mainly of the expatriate colonial civil servants and the Brazilian community which increased in number after the emancipation.19 There is no doubt that the existence of a Western-type music school in Abeokuta as far back as 1861 and the launch of the Lagos Musical Journal in 1915 served as important precursors. The enthusiasm of the Brazilian community in these concerts has also been located in their earlier African experience prior to the slave period in South America. Whatever may be said of outside influence in stimulating awareness of these concerts, interest in concerts by Nigerians was evidently a carryover of a rich indigenous culture of love of song, dance, ritual and theater.20 By the early and middle 20th century the cultural ground was already shifting from a mere attempt at imitating European forms to seeking an authentication of what was considered as indigenous; a ground which in part had been paved by one “Cherubino” who, in the Lagos Musical Journal of 1916, asserted:

The legends of Troy it must be admitted, for interest, stand pre-eminent; but what can equal for beauty and poetical embellishments the legend of Ile Ife, that cradle of mankind as tradition relates.

13It was in the context of this cultural undercurrent that Nigerians started seeking alternative musical forms. Having learnt that the colonial explanation of Christianity was one in which only Victorian hymns could be sung, the Nigerian independent Baptist, Mojola Agbebi, subsequently rejected all forms of European music in worship.

14Other Nigerians followed this path of indigenization. John Collins and Paul Richards note in this respect:

  • 21 . See John Collins and Paul Richards, “Popular Music in West Africa: Suggestions for an Interpretat (...)

Fela Sowande (b.1902), having established a reputation as Nigeria’s leading ‘symphonic’ composer, subsequently argued the case for grounding Nigerian musicology in the study of African religion. Akin Euba has moved in the direction of works, more accessible to mass audiences in which ‘Western’ influenced ‘intellectualist’ procedures of composition are rejected.21

15Therefore, as Echeruo has aptly noted, when Highlife eventually developed more confidently in both Ghana and Lagos in the 1920s and ’30s, it was an attempt, long after Juju, at cultural self-assertion after an era that had been dubbed as schizophrenic. This pull and tension between the forces of “Europeanization” and “authenticity” would later be manifested in the musical practice of Fela (then Ransome-Kuti). This cultural identity crisis was not immediately resolved though, at least not during the Highlife days of his Koola Lobitos band.

Oh! High, Highlife

  • 22 . Fela is quite conscious of this cross-cultural borrowing, and he informed me that his inspiration (...)
  • 23 . See Tam Fiofori's article, “Afrobeat: Nigeria's Gift to World Popular Music (1)” in The Post Expr (...)

16While a criss-cross of African traditional rhythms constitutes the background to Fela’s beat,22 the immediate beginnings of Afrobeat are to be located in Highlife. It would take until after World War II for Highlife to become the most influential dance music in Anglophone West Africa, with “the influx of the returning demobilized Black soldiers with their newly acquired tastes of Western-style live music and night-club entertainment.”23 This process was also aided by rapid urbanization.

  • 24 . Ibid.

17As a measure of cultural-self representation, local musicians attempted to play their diverse folk music with a guitar background. Tam Fiofori suggests that the guitar styles that introduced the instrument to British West Africa were the rhumba-merengue and samba music of GV-70 rpm records that came via the Spanish territories of Africanized Cuba and Latin America.24 Prior to this encounter, however, West Africans have always had the more complicated 20-string instrument known as the kora. This factor, most probably explains the ease with which the musicians embraced “modern guitar,” while also adapting it to the principle of the pentatonic scale to which traditional string instrumentalists had grown accustomed.

  • 25 . Ibid.

18Highlife, which had started off as “palm-wine” guitar music—so called because of the social occasion of palm-wine refreshment during performance—was soon transformed into an orchestra which, apart from guitar, included in its typical ensemble brass instruments such as trumpet, trombone and tuba, as well as reed instruments. Other Western-style instruments of this form are the trap drum and cymbals, accordion, xylophone and keyboard, with the brass and reed instruments now carrying “the tones, in harmony led by the trumpet.”25 These were also the general features of the jazz-Highlife hvbrid era of Fela’s music, which was fused with a melange of West African traditional styles. Some of the Highlife titles to his credit in this period include Onifere, Yeshe leshe, Lagos Baby, Lai Se, Wu Dele, Mi O Mo, Ajo, Alagbara, Onidodo, Keep Nigeria One and Araba’s Delight. Others are Moti Gborokan, Se E Tun De and Ako—all produced between his Koola Lobitos Band and the Highlife Jazz Band (1958-1969), although Ray Templeton (see discography) had tracked down Aigana to the “Highlife Rakers” production of 1960. The musical influences on Fela at this point ranged from soul and blues, Geraldo Pino’s style (including the reciprocal influences with James Brown), through a number of Highlife musicians, notably E.T Mensah, Victor Olaiya and Rex Lawson.

  • 26 . Tam Fiofori identifies the three-membranophone drum as a pivotal instrument also in Ijaw masqurad (...)
  • 27 . Ibid.

19In terms of structural pattern, it was Rex Lawson’s brand of Highlife with its emphasis on the musical complexity of traditional Nigerian drum rhythms—combining the three-membrane drum,26 two/and one-membrane conga drums, and the Western trap drum set with cymbals—that would serve as the immediate catalyst for Afrobeat.27 Besides this, however, High-life had somewhat served its time as a cultural tool for African “authenticity,” as it was wont to be presented in the early decades of the century By now, independence had been achieved and the new nation had to confront issues of development and the post-independence elite who, to a large measure, bestrode the landscape with the air of internal colonizers. The new elite, like its colonial forebears, promptly put a leash on the anticipated democratic project. With a restive population, its organized labor sector and the student movement finding itself confronted by an increasingly diminished “public sphere” for alternative visions (in Nigeria the civil war was already raging), a period of disillusionment would set in and the status quo had by the mid-sixties begun to be challenged on these terms. And with its breezy, generally covert political themes, obsessively hedonistic lyrics—of transcendental love, of women and wine—and a rather sedate rhythmic structure, Highlife was simply not best positioned as the medium for the brewing post-independence confrontation, at least in Nigeria; it was a task that would have to be shouldered by Afrobeat, a subversive musical and cultural practice.

Continental Crisis as Muse

20This development, however, did not occur by happenstance, as even the choice of some cultural preferences earlier discussed have their roots in the overall attempt of Africans, as part of the anti-colonial struggle, to evolve discursive strategies of Otherness—on whose plank the twin concepts of negritude and black personality would later rest. The political and ideological subsoil that would later characterize Fela’s overall oeuvre was grounded in this amalgam of spiritual quests.

  • 28 . See V.Y. Mudimbe's The Invention of Africa: Gnosis, Philosophy, and the Order of Knowledge (Bloom (...)
  • 29 . Ibid., p. 4.

21Early in the century peoples of African descent had fashioned and projected ways of being ‘black’ —in efforts that were both scholarly and artistic. The negritude movement, which “aimed initially at recognizing the black personality (la personalitè nègre),”28 was one such effort, largely because the colonial project had created a dichotomizing system. It was a structure that brought to the fore the tensions of reconciling the past with the present while also orienting activist Africans toward the future. As V.Y. Mudimbe has pointed out, these paradigmatic oppositions were—and still are—evident in the binary differentiation of “tradition versus modern; oral versus written and printed; agrarian and customary communities versus urban and industrialized civilization; subsistence economies versus highly productive economies.”29

22The conferences of Bandung, Paris, and Rome, with their sharp polarizing views on the African condition, had actually been preceded by the negritude initiative, the fifth Pan-African Conference, and the creation of Presence Africaine, all within the first half of the century Mudimbe copiously details an intellectual engagement by African precursors in certain representative domains of this era:

  • 30 . Ibid., p. 89.

In anthropology studies of traditional laws were carried out by A. Ajisafe, The Laws and Customs of the Yorùbá People (1924), and J.B. Danquah, Akan Laws and Customs (1928). Analysis of African customs were published; for example, D. Delobson’s Les Secrets des Sorciers Noirs (1934), M. Quenum’s Au Pays des Fons: us et Coutumes du Dahomey (1938), J. Kenyatta’s Facing Mount Kenya (1938), J. B. Danquah, The Akan Doctrine of God ([1944] 1968), and the excellent researches of K.A. Busia and P Hazoume, respectively The Position of the Chief in Modern Political System of the Ashanti (1951) and Le pacte du Sang au Dahomey ([1937] 1956). In the field of history the most prominent contributions to African nationalism were J.C. de Graft-Johnson’s African Glory: The Story of Vanisked Negro Civilizations (1954) and Cheikh Anta Diop’s Nations nègres et culture (1954), in which he analyses the notion of Hamites and the connections between Egyptian and African languages and civilizations.30

23The third leg of this influence came from African descents of the Americas such as Marcus Garvey W.E.B. Du Bois, Malcolm X, Langston Hughes, Claude Mackay George Padmore and Richard Wright, among others, whose writings and lifestyles helped to shape the quest for an African identity On a broad ideological and political platform, there was the strong intellectual current represented by Marxism which, especially between the 1930s and 1950s, was undoubtedly the greatest influence on the activist African intelligentsia and even nascent statesmen.

  • 31 . Fela constantly alluded to these works in his numerous public lectures.

24It was in this context that Sartre’s 1948 essay, Black Orpheus, and Aimé Césaire’s Discours sur le colonialisme, could have such profound impact on the negritude movement in particular and Africanist theoretical paradigms in general; a boost would be given to this a little later when, at Sorbonne in 1956, a meeting of the First International Congress of Black Writers and Artists was held. Although the events of these times could only have had a remote impact on Fela, his unique family background, with highly politicized parents (Fela’s mother was a socialist and women’s activist, while his father was an educationist and labor activist), did greatly help the retention in later life of those values he could not have fully comprehended in his childhood. Two other thinkers that would later influence Fela were Frantz Fanon and Walter Rodney with their seminal works: The Wretched of the Earth and the more recent How Europe Underdeveloped Africa, respectively31 The anti-colonial and anti-imperialist intellectual mood of this period aided the evolution of an aesthetic engage that rubbed on African literature (written and unwritten), music, and the other arts, even if Fela would later quarrel with aspects of the negritude outlook. The general intellectual and potentially emancipatory thrust of Fanon’s works became an important rallying point for (black) African dissonant voices, even after asserting in The Wretched of the Earth that there wall not be a black culture because, for him, the black problem is of a political nature.

  • 32 . This is the general thrust of Kwame Nkrumah's Neo-Colonialism: The Last Stage of Imperialism (Lon (...)

25Yet, there were other voices like Nnamdi Azikiwe’s Renaissance Africa, Obafemi Awolowo’s Path to Nigerian Freedom, and particularly Julius Nyerere and Kwame Nkrumah—with their several treatises on African socialism. By the time Nyerere made the Arusha Declaration in 1967, the creed of Ujama was finally spelt out in an explicit manner—showing a rather non-aligned path in the ideological divide between capitalism and communism. Nkrumah however underwent several phases, at the end of which he concluded that the essential contradictions of the political economy were those between labor and capital, on one hand, and, on the other, the colony and imperialism.32 It is evident that a consistent trend by the ‘native’ other during this phase, was the general sympathy for socialism, albeit reinterpreted in several ways to express African identity; it was also a factor which informed Fela’s accommodation of the ideology as an important tool for the broad anti-imperialist coalition when he noted that:

  • 33 . See section on “A Felasophy” in Chapter 2.

Although Marx, Lenin and Mao were great leaders of their people, it is however the ideology of Nkrumahism, regarded as an African socialist system, that is recommended because it involves a system where the merits of a man would not depend on his ethnic background.33

  • 34 . Cited in “Theatre in the Niger Valleys,” Glendora Review: African Quarterly on the Arts, 1995, pp (...)

26In the context of the performing arts such as theater and music, three major moments of relating artistic reaction to political processes can be delineated: first, “domestication of political power,” second, “criticism of colonial life,” and third, “celebration of the African sources of life.” I am here borrowing Mudimbe’s classification—applied only to literature—but which is equally apt to the other arts too. The manner of these aesthetic reactions were, however, not necessarily chronological. Of significance here is the experience noted by Colin Grandson since the William-Ponty Teachers’College days (in Senegal since about 1933), which was then Francophone West African “nursery” of its political elite. Of its theater, Grandson observes that “the historical Chief and his present equivalent, the political leader, appear as the main character in more than fifty per cent of the Black African plays of French expression since independence.”34 It took a while before plays of the William-Ponty influence could frontally challenge, in any fundamental sense, the colonial heritage although they evoked a pre-colonial past based on legends and myths, an indication that reactions to colonialism were not always uniform. On the other hand, in Anglophone West Africa, while the theater practice of the earlier Hubert Ogunde of Nigeria straddled the first and second moments, it was the third phase that Fela’s performance predominantly came to articulate—even while taking retrospective glances at the earlier two phases. Werewere Liking’s Village Kiyi performance project and Bernard Zaorou Zadi’s Didiga Theatre (both Ivorien post-independence forms) were also cast in this latter mold.

  • 35 . The Zikist movement was formed on February 16, 1946 and named after Nnamdi Azikiwe whose exemplar (...)

27The Nigerian story itself dates back roughly to 1914 when the then Governor-General, Lord Lugard, amalgamated the Northern and Southern protectorates of a geographical expanse that incorporated some 250-plus ethnic groups. The British government introduced indirect rule, ostensibly for administrative convenience, but had by that act also entrenched a divisive factor that would continue to distract the attention of the new nation. While the anti-colonial movement—especially those grouped around the Zikist movement35—sought to unify the country along a broad anti-imperialist coalition, the country that emerged after independence was largely balkanized along regional groupings with the new political elite unwilling to tap, even as a symbolic reference, the resistance efforts of the Aba Women’s Revolt (1929), the Iva Valley Coal Miners Massacre (1949), the pan-regional coalitions of the Cost of Living Allowance (COLA) led by Chief Micheal Imoudu (1941), and the general strikes of 1945 and 1964.

  • 36 . See Wogu Ananaba in The Trade Union Movement in Nigeria (London: C. Horst and Company 1969), p. v (...)

28The consistent disrespect for the rule of law even after independence has its roots in the attitude to the constitution. A consistent pattern in constitution-making in the country is characterized by the twin factors of its elitist formulation and the lack of an inclusive process of sufficiently accommodating the anxiety of its diverse citizenry Hence, since the first 1922 Richards Constitution, Nigerian constitutions have always been handed down either by colonial officers or military officers, with the inescapable attitude of a benefaction from a benevolent despot. The 1951 Macpherson Constitution drove the most decisive wedge in the way of a national labor perspective through its introduction of a “tripartite division of Nigeria, break-up of national unions to conform to necessities of new political set-up and the development of new regional organizations restricted in membership and jurisdiction to regional boundaries.”36

29The political manifestation of a dependent economy that emerged at independence, as noted by Richard Joseph, was one that played up a patron-client relationship within the civil polity, such that even two decades afterward (in 1979), the political parties that emerged invested in such grand patron figures as the following: National Party of Nigeria (NPN)— Alhaji Makama Bida; Unity Party of Nigeria (UPN)—Chief Obafemi Awolowo; Peoples Redemption Party (PRP)—Mal-lam Aminu Kano; National Peoples Party (NPP)—Dr Nnamdi Azikiwe; Great Nigeria Peoples Party (GNPP)—Alhaji Waziri Ibrahim.

  • 37 . Richards A. Joseph in Democracy and Prebendal Politics in Nigeria: The Rise and Fall of the Secon (...)
  • 38 . Ibid., p. 8.

30Characterizing the nature of the emergent state, Richard Joseph contends that any fruitful discussion about Nigeria must take into account the “nature, extent and persistence of a certain mode of political behavior, and of its social and economic ramifications”37 and suggests a conceptual notion of “prebendalism” to explain the centrality in the Nigerian polity of the intensive and persistent struggle to control and exploit the offices of state.38

  • 39 . Ibid., p. 8.

31According to Joseph, the historical association of the term “prebend” with the offices of certain lords or monarchs, or through outright purchase by supplicants, and then administered to generate income for their possessors, arose in ancient Greece. Hence, the adjective “prebenda” is used to refer to “patterns of political behavior which rest on the justifying principle that such offices should be competed for and then utilized for the personal benefit of the office holders as well as of their reference or support group.”39 This background helps to explain why Fela devoted enormous attention to the political “patron” in order to undermine its symbolic figure, since it was precisely the patron-client relation that provides a sustaining framework for the manifestation of prebendal politics in Nigeria.

  • 40 . This observation was made by Terisa Turner, in “Petroleum, Recession and the Internationalization (...)
  • 41 . See Crawford, Young, Ideology and Development in Africa (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1982), (...)
  • 42 . Excerpts from the presidential address by Claude Ake to the Annual Conference of the Nigerian Pol (...)

32This patron-client ties reflect a social relationship which has become a crucial element—perhaps even the defining form—of governmental process in Nigeria under which lies an economic stratum that has been variously described as a “government by contract” and a “rentier state, in which revenues derive from taxes or rents on production, rather than from productive activity”40 and an “inverted pyramid, tearing precariously on a hydrocarbon pinnacle.”41 In this case it was the oil revenue, the mainstay of Nigeria’s economy that was at stake. The centrality of the state in deciding who becomes the patron—since state power conferred the ability to control enormous economic resources—turned Nigeria’s politics into warfare, “a matter of life or death.”42

33In other words, the emergent “national” bourgeois class is one whose claim to that appellation is not necessarily derived from any productive venture as such, but merely in relation to agency commission doled and received from transnational corporations. Broadly speaking, its oudook is neither national nor market-driven, as it also shows a marked preference for allocation derived from oil wealth as middlemen, import-export agents and commission-takers. As a divided, sectionalized—even tribalized—group, this comprador alliance with foreign capital has been unable to forge and crystallize an enduring national identity This critical element in the nature of national class formation, especially the narrow and particularistic pursuit of the elite, has substantially distorted the crust of the working class and other ancillary sectors, foisted a false consciousness, and reduced the emergence of a self-conscious opposition without reference to primordial allegiances. This attitude survives even in recent history such that when General Ibrahim Babangida annulled the national elections of 1993, won by Chief Moshood Abiola, it was not too difficult for the General to raise the bogey of a potential southern/Yoriiba domination of the polity if the result of the elections were honored. This blurring of class-referenced attitude, which cuts across the board, has been assisted by an interconnected patronage system (with varying degrees of influence among the different nationalities), which allows for a member of the working class stratum to image himself as participant in the sharing of national economic largesse. Hence, a member of the working class sufficiently angered in a quarrel may retort: “Do you know me? Do you know who I am?” The silence in the altercation here carrying the unspoken undertone: Do you know whom I am connected to? Usually such a hidden scarecrow is some member of the armed forces, connected to the brag by no more than, “We come from the same village.” Such is the strength of the image of the new patron—the Nigerian military

  • 43 . Term used to describe urban unemployed youth, prone to forming gangs and extorting money as a way (...)
  • 44 . General referencing from Tunde Agboola's Architecture of Fear (Ibadan: IFRA/African Book Builders (...)

34Invariably, it is the civil society that has had to bear the effect of the elite in-fighting that has characterized the years spanning 1960 to the present, having, as it does, to live with urban chaos in housing, transportation, health services and the phenomenal increase, among others, of “the Area Boys”43 syndrome, occasioned by economic hardship and the anonymity bred by inter-urban migration. Lagos, Fela’s predominant site of performance, is the worst hit by the contradictions engendered by the political economy primarily because it is the center of the nation’s industrial and financial sector, and the main port of entry into and exit from the nation, even after 1976 when Abuja became the capital city Coupled with this cosmopolitan ambience, Lagos emerged with a much stronger working class and protest tradition, but also took on board a variety of social crises, such as youth drug-addiction, mental disorder, alcoholism, unemployment, displacement and violence. A 1996 fieldwork reveals that about 17.5 per cent of households in Lagos experience frequent occurrences of urban violence, which implies about two households in every ten; and a quarter (24.7 percent) of all households have fallen victim to at least one residential burglary—with the prospect of the form of violence being armed robbery which accounts for 47.37 percent of such attacks.44

35The middle class response to this phenomenon, which had become rampant by the 1970s, was to withdraw into fortresses, behind high-wall fenced apartments. And because there was hardly ever any long-term approach to solving these social problems, the military governments since the 1966 coup have often resorted to a task force operational method that sought to whip the population back to the “correct path.” The urban poor became the immediate target of the marauding soldiers who charged at them in a manner reminiscent of the brutality with which the colonial West African Frontier Force (WAFF) soldiers maimed protesting Nigerian women during the Aba Women’s Revolt of 1929. This “season of anomy” as the title of Wole Soyinka’s novel published in 1973 pictured it, continued unabated through the civil war period, the oil-boom and post oil-boom era of the seventies—including the structural adjustment phase and the rise of military autocracy and “maximum” leadership after the overthrow of the Shehu Shagari regime in 1983.

  • 45 . See Tell magazine no 5, 1998.
  • 46 . See details in Tell magazine, no. 6, February 5, 1996, and The Guardian of December 22,1996.

36The spate of urban violence rose to even higher heights in the nineties with the new dimension of bomb-throwing as a means, apparently to settling political scores. After the death of General Sani Abacha, who ruled between 1993 and 1998, his Chief Security Officer (CSO) Major Hamza Al-Mustapha confessed to having knowledge of bomb-planting engineered on the instruction of his former boss.45 Besides this, it became public knowledge that the late dictator had a special “hit-squad” which eliminated the political opposition and hounded the press. In 1994, the residence of Dan Suleiman, an anti-military-rule activist, in Victoria Island, Lagos, was petrol-bombed and his personal effects set ablaze. This was followed by a bomb blast in the Ilorin Township Stadium in 1995, venue of the launching of the Kwara State Chapter of the Family Support Program (FSP), a pet project of the then First Lady Maryam Abacha.46

37It was not until 1996, however, that incidents of bomb explosion became a statistical bi-monthly with six explosions recorded during the year, three of which occurred in the single month of January, under a military dispensation that had continually triggered coups, countercoups, and phantom coups since 1966. This, in a sense, was a product of the military’s bitter internal contradictions and an attempt to use state power for personal benefit. This was the political environment to which Fela reacted.

Some Sort of Ègbá Boy

38Against the anxiety and idealism of a young man, the home that Fela returned to in 1963, after his training at Trinity College to study music, was one that would be taken over by the rule of the jackboot and martial tunes. Born into the Ègbá-Yorübá Family of Reverend Ransome-Kuti and nee Thomas on October 15,1938, Fela was the fourth of five children. A number of antecedent factors helped to shape his musical and cultural practice.

  • 47 . See Robert Smith in Kingdoms of the Yorùbá (London: Methuen & Co. Ltd., 1969), p. 94.

39The Ègbá, since about 1830, have been concentrated in the metropolis of Abeokuta and along the districts around River Ógùn in present-day Ógùn State.47 Even though hemmed between the Oyó Empire and the British who would soon arrive on the coast, the Egbá quite early sought autonomy and, led by Lísàbí their national hero, rebelled against Òyó domination and fought into retreat a reprisal team sent from the Òyó Kingdom.

40From this point on, the Egbá state attempted to, and did, make real its independence. A new constitutional order was introduced into the state, along with a national anthem and flag, and trade with the coast and the hinterland was intensified. Soon, the missionaries would arrive in Abeokuta, and with their entourage, cultural assets such as printing presses, educational institutions, factories, and a new literacy—which will further make visible (even when attacked by the missionaries) certain cultural elements such as the all-female G èlèdè mask and its satirical agency the Èfè. Though he was deprived of interacting with the tradition as a youth (his paternal family of clerics disparaged it), Fela would later reach back into this cultural antecedence much later in his musical and artistic career, and rework substantially traditional, even cultic, codes into his performance.

41Of particular interest to Fela was the Ifá system of thought and aesthetics. Ifa is the Yorùbá divination system through which its priests try to decipher shrouded events: past, present or future—of whole communities and individuals. The teachings of Ifa are embodied in the Odù—usually a collection of anecdotes that refer to the theme in a narrative detour. A practice that predates Islam and Christianity the Odù of Ifa are of two types: the Ojú Odù (principal Odù)—sixteen in number and represented by Ikín sacred nuts of the same number—and the Omo Odù (minor Odù)—which are 240. Both the principal and minor Odu are arranged in a specific order of seniority and the hierarchical ordering is of great significance in the interpretation of Ifa’s (also known as Orúnmìlà and Agbonmìrègún) message. Regarding the world as a vast mathematical pattern (a trait which the Pythagoreans, Hebrew Cabbala and other equally ancient cultures share with it), the Ifa priest combines these numbers and configures their result. The process of deriving the Odù may be effected by casting cowry shells or pieces of kola nuts. The Ifa divination process is quite hierarchical with the Babalawo and Iyánífá at the apex. Unlike the Babalawo and Iyánífá, who are the oracular priests of Ifa, the Oníèsgùn and Adáhunse are less specialized and therefore do not have a ritual procedure as elaborate as the former.

42Beyond this cultural flux of his formative years, there was also the repressive atmosphere of colonial district officers and tax collectors extorting money for and on behalf of the colonial government. Even as a child, his activist mother took him along to political rallies; and he would recall the incident which led to his dad being stabbed in the eye with a bayonet by a trigger-happy soldier as a reprisal against the activist Reverend Father who had presumably “disrespected” the British Crown. These early exposures had a profound effect on his cultural and political attitude later in life, as Fela was wont to constantly allude to the events.

  • 48 . See Johnson-Odim, Cheryl and Mba, Nina Emma in For Women and the Nation: Funmilayo Ransome-Kuti o (...)

43Fela’s mother would later visit the Soviet Union and China, meeting Mao Tse Tong at a time when such an action was considered highly treasonable. A foremost activist and human rights advocate, she organized women groups across the country and mobilized Egba women toward the deposition of Sir Ladapo Ademola II, the Alake of Egbaland. When the latter was later reinstated, she was said to have withheld her recognition and support.48 Her choice of political party was the National Council of Nigeria and the Cameroons (NCNC), led by Dr. Nnamdi Azikiwe whom she considered a most forthright pan-Africanist of that era. Fela later met the late Osagyefo, Dr. Kwame Nkrumah, who preached Pan-Africanism.

44In the early sixties Fela studied music at Trinity College, London, though he had always played music at home given the fact that his parents and grandfather were themselves accomplished musicians. Both in Britain and the United States, Fela had played in salons where he had a series of encounters with white racists. Furthermore, the sixties were years of many unusual social and economic events with their devastating effects on the psyche of conscious black youths like Fela. Such events included the Black Panther era, the invasion of the Bay of Pigs by the United States, and the assassination of Patrice Lumumba, whose memory had lingered. Sandra Smith, an African American girlfriend, lent him the biography of Malcolm X by Alex Haley and this simple event became a date-maker of his ideological initiation as a Pan-Africanist. As a complement to his musical engagé, Fela later formed the Young African Pioneers (YAP) in 1976 and the Movement of the People (MOP), in order to pursue this vision, although the latter was refused registration for the 1979 election.

Musical Afrobeat: Cultural and Political Evolution

  • 49 . See Tam Fiofori's “Afrobeat: Nigeria's Gift to World Music (2),” in the Post Express of August 17 (...)
  • 50 . Ibid.
  • 51 . Ibid.

45Translating his Pan-Africanist vision into music, however, took a while after many false starts that included experimentation with American soul style music and Highlife. The striving to evolve other layers of contemporary African styles of music had always been part of the effort of that generation of young Nigerians who enrolled in music schools in England in the late fifties and early sixties. While the older generation comprising Adams Fiberesima, Akin Euba, Sam Akpabot and Laz Ekwueme “chose to study classical music and returned to Nigeria as music academics... or worked in radio and television stations as music directors... another group of students chose to study dance and popular music.”49 In this latter set were the likes of Wole Buc-knor, Briddy Wright and the then Fela Ransome-Kuti. With others like Mike Falana, Lasisi Amoo, Fred Coker and Dele Okonkwo—who also went to Europe to further their careers— they got involved in diverse musical forms: European Jazz, Rhythm and Blues, Rock’n’Roll and the emerging pop music of the sixties.50 As a remote influence, the jazz music of Miles Davis, John Coltrane, Sonny Rollins and Charles Mingus— with whom they occasionally had jam sessions—came to have an imprint on their musical style. This would be noticed later in Fela’s composition. All the while, however, their attempt was to infuse the new experience with Highlife, an attitude informed by their conviction that the new musical form had to be rhythm-driven, and as noted by Tam Fiofori, “with a strong percussive section.”51

  • 52 . This was Fela's preferred name for his style of music after his rejection of the title “Afrobeat, (...)
  • 53 . See text of interview in Carlos Moore's Fela, Fela this bitch of a Life (London: Allison and Bugs (...)
  • 54 . Tam Fiofori (2).

46For Fela, the solution to this search did not emerge until many years later when he suddenly realized that he was playing to empty halls and that his music did not reflect his new consciousness. It was during his 1969 American visit that he finally decided on a new rhythm, as he recalls: “I said to myself, ‘How do Africans sing songs? They sing with chants. Now let me chant into this song: la-la-la-laa...’ Looking for the right beat I remembered this very old guy I’d met in London—Ambrose Campbell. He used to play African Music52 with a special beat. I used that beat to write my tune, man... I didn’t know how the crowd would take the sound, you know I just started. The whole club started jumping and everybody started dancing. I knew that I’d found the thing, man. To me, it was the first African tune I’d written till then.”53 Meanwhile, this decision had also been preceded by his increasing interest in black studies and African cultural forms. He changed the name of his band from “Fela Ransome-Kuti and the Highlife Jazz Band” to “Fela Ransome-Kuti and the Nigeria 70,” under which he produced the new rhythmic experiment of My Lady’s Frustration in the 1969 Los Angeles sessions. Far away in the United Kingdom, another contemporary and friend of Fela, Peter King, had also started a similar fusion described by Tam Fiofori as “Afrojazz, with faint elements of Highlife, a very distinct flavour of modern jazz and a predominant emphasis on percussive rhythms.”54

47It was however in Jeun K’oku, and more determinedly with Why Blackman Dey Suffer that we get the definite shift to the structural pattern of contemporary Afrobeat. With Jeun K’oku one gets the sort of ‘bold’ and assertive vocalization, structured in an upbeat, fast tempo reminiscent of James Brown’s lines, “Say it Loud/I’m black and proud.” The instrumentation of the ensemble—now called The Africa ’70—also reflected this transition that included in its percussive section, a trap-drum set of bass drum, snare drum and cymbals, two tom-tom drums, then a three-membrane drum. Later in the Egypt ’80 Band he added the gbedu, the ’big conga drum,‘ basically’ a Bzoule-type Attoumgblan, two-a-piece interlocking membrane drums and a second bass section that intensified the rhythm. Together with an amplified rhythm machine, two keyboards, rattles, metal gong, sticks, the bass and tenor guitars, he had defined his rhythm section. The horn section was made up of a trumpet, alto, tenor (first and second) and baritone (first and second) saxophones.

  • 55 . Ibid.

48The basic format of most of Fela’s compositions is easily identifiable in his percussion that usually starts off with a signature rhythm that introduces rhythm messages. This could be with the keyboards, “the two guitars in unison or counter points,”55 the trap drum or even the two membrane drums in unison or counterpoint. In many of his compositions, usually the rhythm is kicked off with a double, regular-interval beat on the bass drum, and against this bass drum, a snare drum beat interlude breaks the monotony and thereby serves as antiphonal to the defining bass drum. Against this general background, the rattle, gong and rhythm guitars come in to pave way for the piano and later the horn section, after which the chorus and cantor take over.

  • 56 . The view was expressed in an interview with the musician Steve Rhodes in Lagos, November 1997.
  • 57 . This has been observed by the music scholar John Collins. See also, Michael Veal, “And After the (...)

49The bass drum rhythm has been identified by Steve Rhodes as Egbaesque, with its roots reminiscent of certain rhythms of the Orò cult.56 What is equally incontrovertible is the choice of most of his simple Ègbá chants such as “tere kúte” or “joro jára joro,” which are built on harmonies based on the pentatonic scale. It is a format Fela respects and does not depart from in any fundamental sense. Even the choice of playing in the pentatonic scale can be seen as not only musically but also ideologically motivated. Schooled, as he was, in the Western musical tradition, his preference is shown in an attitude to music that incorporated the improvisational and oral with its accompanying limited strictures. Unlike Highlife music which followed the European harmonic structural pattern, the structure of Fela’s Afrobeat, in the main, gravitates toward traditional modal scale. His African musicianship is further exhibited through the use of such West African traditional techniques like ensemble stratification, modalism and hocketing, a point such scholars as John Collins and Michael Veal have also noted.57

50By reflecting the tonal character of the African speech pattern in the instrumental section, Fela invests his total ensemble with the power of a speech surrogate that serves as the ‘inner voices’ one often gets in his music. Besides this, the structure made it easier for the commentary of the cantor—a role assumed by Fela in the mold of the traditional griot and the “Chief Priest,” as he was later styled, who must make pronouncements. To understand the universe of Fela’s thought on this and his imagined (African) continent, a paraphrase of his diverse readings is given in the opening of Chapter Two.

51At the level of lyrical content, he constantly questions received notions through his strident political commentaries, rude jokes, parodies and an acerbic sense of humor and satire. The predominant persona of his narrative is a troubadour in quest of justice and fair play trenchant and uncompromising in exploring the nuances of everyday life and depicting the subject as victim of authoritarian constructions, while at the same time seeking to reposition him from this status to that of a genuine creator of culture through his diverse social roles. The subject (in Alagbon Close), even as a night-soil man sings: “I be agbepo; I dey do my part; without me your city go smell like shit,” to which the chorus responds: “Never mind, I dey do my part, I be human being like you.”

Vocal: I am a night soil man. I play my social role; without me the stench in your city would be unbearable.
Chorus: Never mind. I am only playing my role. I am as human as you.

52Even when his lyrics acknowledge the transcendent, he is quick to introduce the conscious, mediating role of human agency so as not to depict a helpless humanity in a naturalistic state. Drawing on a romantic African past in International Thief Thief (ITT), he concludes that the current status of the underprivileged class is alterable provided he is ready to fight International Finance Capital: “We must fight dem (transnationals such as ITT) well well”. Shordy before this, in Original Suffer Head, he cautions: “Before we all are to jefa head o, we must be ready to fight for am o sufferhead must stop.”

Before we can attain a life of comfort
We must be prepared to fight for it
The status of being the victim must stop

53Coupled with this, he evolved a choreographic idea that sought to interpret the ideological underpinnings of his song texts. This theme is given full treatment in Chapter Four.

54And once Afrobeat took a definable character, it created the basis for experimentation by several other musicians. Many, including Roy Ayers, Lester Bowie, Manu Dibango, Hugh Masekela, Paul McCartney and Ginger Baker, had visited and jammed with Fela by the seventies and later cloned his form. Old precursors of the form with Fela such as Johnny Haastrup and Segun Bucknor, with a later convert like Blackman Hakeem Karim, continued to play in the background while a crop of younger Nigerian artists such as Femi Anikulapo-Kuti and his brother Seun, Charly Boy Yinusa Akinbuosu, the masked Lag-baja (Bisade Ologunde), KunNiraN (Kunle Adeniran), Dele Ogunkoya, Dede Mabiaku, Amala, Bodun Ajayi, Bright Chimezie and Funso Ogundipe are introducing new forms.

55While Gudrun Hoick, in Denmark, Dele Sosinmi’s “Gbedu Resurrection,” in Britain, Dele Ogungbe’s “The African Connection” and Tony Allen’s “Afrobeat Revenge” in France are extending the frontiers of the form, Salif Keita of Mali and Youssouf N’dour of Senegal are also drawing on the inspiration of Afrobeat while giving it their respective local flavors.

Notes

1 . See Olu Oguibe's “The Voice,” an excerpt from the collection, A Gathering Fear (Yaba-Lagos: Kraft Books, 1992), p. 10.

2 . From the poet's unpublished collection, “Whispers of the Dust.”

3 . Unlike in the recorded album, the word ‘government’ is occasionally substituted for ‘Africa’ in live performances.

4 . See Philip Tagg: “Open Letter: ‘Black Music’, ‘Afro-American Music’ and ‘European Music'” in Popular Music, African Issues (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, vol. 8, no. 3, October, 1989), p. 290.

5 . This view was expressed by Fela in a 1992 interview with the author.

6 . Graeme Ewens in “The Highlife Zone,” A Celebration of African Music (London: Guiness Publishing Ltd., 1980), p. 80.

7 . See Sylvia Esi Kinni, “Africanisms in Music and Dance of the Americas,” in Goldstein (ed.), Black Life and Culture in the United States (New York: Crowell and Sons, 1971), p. 55.

8 . Graeme Ewens, A Celebration, p. 80.

9 . In a similar vein, Abiola Irele notes of a tendency in literary criticism to define Africa's creative process mainly in relation to a presumed European corpus against which it must be measured. See his introducction to Aime Cesaire Cahier D'un Retour Au Pays Natal (Ibadan: New Horn Press, 1994), p. xiii.

10 . 10. Samuel Ekpe Akpabot in Foundation of Nigerian Traditional Music (Ibadan: Spectrum Books, 1986), preface.

11 . Ibid., p. 58.

12 . Akin Euba suggests that Ayan may be regarded as the ultimate ancestor of all drummers. See Essays on Music in Africa (Bayreuth: Iwalewa-Haus, 1988), p. 7.

13 . Ibid., p. 5.

14 . Ibid., pp. 9-11.

15 . Cited from The Oxford Companion to Music by Michael J. C. Echeruo, in Victorian Lagos: Aspects of Nineteenth Century Lagos Life (London: Macmillan, 1977).

16 . This charge was made by Rev J. Vernal in Church Intelligence and Record of January 1889.

17 . See Echeruo Aspects of Nineteenth Century Lagos Life (London: Macmillan, 1977), p. 68.

18 . Ibid., p. 70.

19 . Michael J. C. Echeruo in “Concert and Theatre in Late Nineteenth Century Lagos.” See Nigeria Magazine, no. 74 of September 1962.

20 . Ibid.

21 . See John Collins and Paul Richards, “Popular Music in West Africa: Suggestions for an Interpretative Framework,” in David Horn and Philip Tagg (ed.) Popular Music Perspective (Sweden: The International Association of the Study of Popular Music, 1982), p. 122.

22 . Fela is quite conscious of this cross-cultural borrowing, and he informed me that his inspiration derives primarily from traditional music. Once, I pressed for specificity and he replied, saving: “Everyone (of the traditional musicians) has got something to sav” Tunji Oyelana also confirmed that he had on occasions been invited to the Shrine by Fela for some interaction on folk forms in which Oye-lana specializes; this was corroborated by band members. The Gbagado Gbogodo series is a product of such interaction.

23 . See Tam Fiofori's article, “Afrobeat: Nigeria's Gift to World Popular Music (1)” in The Post Express, August 16, 1997.

24 . Ibid.

25 . Ibid.

26 . Tam Fiofori identifies the three-membranophone drum as a pivotal instrument also in Ijaw masqurade music.

27 . Ibid.

28 . See V.Y. Mudimbe's The Invention of Africa: Gnosis, Philosophy, and the Order of Knowledge (Bloomington and Indianapolis: Indiana University Press, and London: James Currey 1988), p. 87.

29 . Ibid., p. 4.

30 . Ibid., p. 89.

31 . Fela constantly alluded to these works in his numerous public lectures.

32 . This is the general thrust of Kwame Nkrumah's Neo-Colonialism: The Last Stage of Imperialism (London: Heinemann, 1965).

33 . See section on “A Felasophy” in Chapter 2.

34 . Cited in “Theatre in the Niger Valleys,” Glendora Review: African Quarterly on the Arts, 1995, pp. center spread.

35 . The Zikist movement was formed on February 16, 1946 and named after Nnamdi Azikiwe whose exemplary nationalism inspired the youth in the first place. The founding members were Dr. Kola Balogun (president), Chief MCK Ajuluchukwu (first secretary), Mokwugo Okoye, Abiodun Aloba, Nduka Eze, Habib Raji Abdallah, Oged Macaulay and Harry Nwanna. Source: “Anonimity of Matyrdom” by Kayode Komolafe, Sunday Concord, Sept. 27, 1998), p. 8.

36 . See Wogu Ananaba in The Trade Union Movement in Nigeria (London: C. Horst and Company 1969), p. vii.

37 . Richards A. Joseph in Democracy and Prebendal Politics in Nigeria: The Rise and Fall of the Second Republic (Ibadan and Cambridge: Spectrum Books and Cambridge University Press, 1991), p. 1.

38 . Ibid., p. 8.

39 . Ibid., p. 8.

40 . This observation was made by Terisa Turner, in “Petroleum, Recession and the Internationalization of Class Struggle in Nigeria.” Labor, Capital and Society 18(1): 1985.

41 . See Crawford, Young, Ideology and Development in Africa (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1982), p. 219.

42 . Excerpts from the presidential address by Claude Ake to the Annual Conference of the Nigerian Political Science Association in West Africa, May 25, 1981, pp. 162-3.

43 . Term used to describe urban unemployed youth, prone to forming gangs and extorting money as a way of ‘coping’ with city life.

44 . General referencing from Tunde Agboola's Architecture of Fear (Ibadan: IFRA/African Book Builders, 1997).

45 . See Tell magazine no 5, 1998.

46 . See details in Tell magazine, no. 6, February 5, 1996, and The Guardian of December 22,1996.

47 . See Robert Smith in Kingdoms of the Yorùbá (London: Methuen & Co. Ltd., 1969), p. 94.

48 . See Johnson-Odim, Cheryl and Mba, Nina Emma in For Women and the Nation: Funmilayo Ransome-Kuti of Nigeria (Lagos: Crucible Publishers, 1997), p. 6.

49 . See Tam Fiofori's “Afrobeat: Nigeria's Gift to World Music (2),” in the Post Express of August 17, 1997.

50 . Ibid.

51 . Ibid.

52 . This was Fela's preferred name for his style of music after his rejection of the title “Afrobeat,”

53 . See text of interview in Carlos Moore's Fela, Fela this bitch of a Life (London: Allison and Bugsby, 1982), pp. 85-88.

54 . Tam Fiofori (2).

55 . Ibid.

56 . The view was expressed in an interview with the musician Steve Rhodes in Lagos, November 1997.

57 . This has been observed by the music scholar John Collins. See also, Michael Veal, “And After the Continentalist” (Glendora Review: African Quarterly on the Arts vol. 2, no. 2, 1997), p. 048.

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