Combining Jazz, Funk, Ghanaian Highlife, and traditional West African chants and rhythms, the Nigerian musician Fela Kuti became the father of Afrobeat, a title that Fela shares with his drummer, Tony Allen. Fela Kuti believed in the power of African traditional culture, unity, respect, Human rights, and democracy, to cope with European imperialism in Africa. His music often aimed to attack directly the dictatorships and corruption that were too often ruining the life of the African citizens. As music was becoming influent, Fela was often victim of an active repression from the Nigerian government.
This song, Coffin for Head of State (Part 2), initially from the LP of the same name, is a tribute to Funmilayo Ransome-Kuti, Fela’s mother, feminist, and activist in the anti-colonial movement. The song also puts the blame on Nigerian head of state and army general Olusegun Obasanjo for the death of Funmilayo, who passed away after being defenestrated from her own house by Nigerian Soldiers. Fela had made the corpse of his mother be delivered to Obasanjo, who had to take the coffin out of respect for the dead and fear of angering spirits. In this song, Fela also “waka waka waka” through Africa, and sadly reports on the despotism, the corruption, and the religious obscurantism, people are victim of.
There would be a lot to write about only one of Fela’s songs, but let us listen to the music. Groove’n Arrels (www.groovenarrel.org) is proud to broadcast a part of the great musical legacy of Fela Anikulapo Kuti.