Dec 30, 2010

Tony Allen - Lagos No Shaking


More than any other member of Fela Anikulapo Kuti's early bands, drummer Tony Allen can be said to have co-invented Afrobeat. Kuti provided the funk/jazz/Yoruba folk music themes and arrangements—plus the trademark insurrectionary lyrics and, crucially in the face of vicious and ongoing state attempts to silence the band, the leadership. (The buck sure enough stopped with Kuti, a man of extraordinary integrity and courage.) Allen provided that unique Afrobeat rhythm—a majestic, straight to your feet, loose-limbed but heavy shuffle.


The Afrobeat sound owns its very existence to its creators Fela Kuti and Tony Allen. Regarded as one of the most distinctive and in-demand drummers on the planet, Tony Allen is responsible for Afrobeat’s propulsive and melodic rhythms.

Since leaving Fela Kuti in the late ‘70s, Tony Allen has created a distinctive name for himself acting as bandleader, composer, and husky, rapping vocalist on a string of groundbreaking albums by pushing at the boundaries of African, rock, jazz and hip hop music, recording with the likes of Manu Dibango, King Sunny Ade and Blur/Gorillaz leader Damon Albarn. Now with his brand new album for Honest Jons, Tony Allen returns to Lagos, one of the world’s steamiest capitals of rhythm for his most powerful, personal, and all-African album to date, Lagos No Shaking.

Drawing on Lagos’ diverse musical traditions, Lagos No Shaking (slang for “Lagos is doing OK”) brings together several generations of musical talents into a bristling brew of unsurpassed rhythm. Collaborators include extraordinary 76 year-old vocalist Fatai Rolling Dollar, legendary saxophonists Baba Ani and Show Boy from Fela Kuti’s Afrika 70 and Egypt 80 line-ups, and vibrant soul woman Yinka Davies. Lagos No Shaking is a love letter from Africa’s city of rhythm featuring some its finest performers.


Tony Allen played drums in Fela Kuti's bands between 1964 and 1978, contributing a vital element to Afrobeat's evolution. And while he's been active as a bandleader for nearly three decades, Allen's presence has intensified during the last five years.

This set was recorded in Lagos, and manages to harness the rugged grit of that difficult city, whilst simultaneously presenting Allen's signature sound with a slick production sheen. Intense horn riffs, choppy guitar, call-and-response vocals: all of these elements are interwoven with Allen's detailed, cyclic beats, his taut tripping lending an elastic tension to the dancefloor.

The tunes tend to insinuate themselves after several airings. Young, soulful Yinka Davies powers abrasively through "Morose" and "Losun", two songs that boast almost annoyingly catchy choruses, then elderly groaner Fatai Rolling Dollar imparts a completely traditional juju feel to "Awa Na Re", prompting Allen to layer up some heavy hardcore percussion patterns.



Tony Allen is the co-creator of Afrobeat, and one of the most distinctive and in-demand drummers on the planet. No one swings like this Nigerian rhythm man — with that amazing, loose-limbed, poly-rhythmic technique that has powered some of the funkiest and most challenging dance music ever created. And Lagos No Shaking is his most powerful and personal album to date: a return to core values; a testament to the fact that afrobeat is best served straight — hot, hard and percussion-heavy.

Tony Allen grew up surrounded by rhythm: the local palm-wine and juju sounds loved by his motor mechanic father, and the pan-African, big-band highlife then sweeping the clubs of Africa — exemplified by the great Ghanaian bandleader E. T. Mensah. The young Tony developed an obsession with drums. But opportunities to get near a kit were few and far between in 1950s Lagos. He made his professional debut at the age of 18, while working as a radio technician, playing claves with Sir Victor Olaiya and his Cool Cats. When the regular drummer left, Tony was handed the sticks. He went on honing his technique with Negu Morris And The Heatwaves, the Nigerian Messengers and the Western Toppers Highlife Band. His role models were Art Blakey and the Ghanaian drummer Koffi Ghanaba, aka Guy Warren.

Then, in 1964, Tony was invited to audition for a band called Koola Lobitos, led by a young Nigerian — just returned from music studies in London — named Fela Kuti. Fela’s influence on the young drummer was incalculable. But then so was Tony’s on Fela. Here was exactly the musician Fela had been looking for: capable of fusing jazz and highlife sensibilities and sounding, as Kuti put it, ‘like five drummers at once’. If Fela was afrobeat’s mind and mouth, Tony Allen was its arms and legs, his webs of cascading off-beats endlessly powering the music forward.

Allen split with Fela in 1978 — citing the bandleader’s lack of care for his musicians. He relocated to Paris in 1980, involving himself in an amazing diversity of collaborative projects over the succeeding decades.

Now, finally, Tony Allen himself is back. Recorded over ten all-night sessions in the Ikeja district, Lagos No Shaking is the first Lagos-recorded album on which Tony has had complete artistic freedom. But it is also a truly collaborative work, which draws on the city’s diverse musical traditions and brings together several generations of Lagosian musical talent.

Key among the veterans is the extraordinary 76 year-old palm-wine singer Fatai Rolling Dollar, who adds his throatily commanding tones and throbbing agidigbo thumb piano to four tracks. From Fela’s classic Afrika 70 and Egypt 80 line-ups, saxmen Baba Ani and Show Boy add that essential deep-blasting horn undertow. There are the r and b sensibilities of Yinka Davies and Omololu Ogunleye; and Muritala Adisa adds touches of ewe, a form of spoken praise-singing rooted in ancent Yoruba tradition.

But the key element is, of course, Tony Allen’s powerful, yet magnicently relaxed drumming, which keeps everything in perpetual rocking motion, tempering the hard funk edges of classic afrobeat with earthier Lagosian flavours. Indeed, while the album’s observations on Lagos life are aptly tough and sardonic, this is a warmer, more down-home, perhaps a more humane album than anything Fela ever produced.

Lagos No Shaking means Lagos is on form, Lagos is solid; and on Awa Na Re Fatai Rolling Dollar sings the praises of a city that has been much reviled – not least by its own inhabitants. ‘Lagos is a fantastic place,’ he sings over rolling traditional percussion. ‘In Lagos you can get whatever you want.’ Ise Nla maintains the mood with talk of a ‘dream ticket, a fantastic job’. In Moyege Lolu thanks his parents for good upbringing and the freedom he feels when he stays with them. Ole ('Lazy') and Ogogoro — an ode to the local gin, complete with drunken marital discussion — warn of the dangers of hanging around in bars. Morose bemoans the grim expressions of the people of Lagos; and Losun alleges and lambasts the inexpressiveness of Nigerian men with true afrobeat frankness.

Lagos No Shaking is a spectacular homecoming for Tony Allen, an acerbic, unflinching love letter to the city that gave him life in rhythm.


Tony Allen, inventor of the Afro-beat rythmn and drums of such hi regard brought out a bit of a classice with Lagos No Shaking before he went off collborating with Honest Jon himself, Damon Albarn.

In fact old Honest Jon’s got serious on the 12” releases as ‘Moyege’, ‘One Tree’, ‘Kilode’ and ‘Ole’ and came out. The album starts with the hi-tempo ‘Ise Nla’ and keeps the funk going right up toh the end with arguably the best of the set, the stripped down instrumental ‘Gbedu’ that’s busy and simple all at the same time.

For once the contents are a good as the cover and it doesn’t really matter how old this album is, it’ll always sound good. And just to emphasis the point, don’t forget Vampi’s CD set Afro Disco Beat (that came out at the time of Tony being on African Soul Rebel Tour earlier in the year) that includes his first four solo album’s Jealousy (1975), Progress (1976), No Accomodation For Lagos (1978) and No Discrimination (1979). Even though Allen is now in his seventies, he can still caputure the imagination of the Beat Generation and long may he continue.


It's now nine years since the passing of Nigerian political firebrand, bandleader and Afrobeat creator Fela Kuti. His music drew on funk and jazz as well as the home-grown highlife sounds - it was intense, impassioned, focused and danceable.

Two of his sons, Femi and Seun, keep the torch burning - Femi with a sharp, radio-friendly Fela-lite, while the younger Seun's music sticks closer to dad's blueprint, and is no less exciting for it. It did him no harm on his 2004 UK visit, having percussionist Tony Allen on board.

Ah yes, Allen was Fela's chief musical collaborator through most of his very productive period with Africa 70, having first played with him in the mid 60s. Amongst other things, he was and is a drummer so ferociously rhythmic that when he finally left Fela's employ it took four men to replace him.

An in-demand session player with African greats like Manu Dibango, Sunny Ade and Ray Lema, and with eclectic credits elsewhere on the work of Roy Ayers, Spearhead and Susheela Raman, Allen's own solo albums have been only an occasional treat in the past couple of decades since he delivered Progress, his debut as a leader, in 1975 - though much of his repertoire has happily turned up on CD in recent times.

Honest Jon's Records is fast becoming a haven for treasures left-field, lost and overlooked, and has given Allen his head and let him do Lagos No Shaking. Recorded over 10 nights in the Nigerian capital, the record effortlessly proves that this older generation can still show the Afrobeat way. As might be expected, the album is rhythmically faultless, the percussion being allowed to breathe in its own space, while the horns are reassuringly rude, and the guitar figures conjure a trance for a dance, if you will.

Lagos No Shaking plays host to a handful of guest vocalists, including highlife maestro Fatai Rolling Dollar and diva Yinka Davies, and while that might present the idea of a Buena Vista-esque rolling revue, it's actually the record's only real failing, with some performances - largely those in English - like Morose and Losun, found wanting in execution. Where Fela made a virtue of communicating in English pidgin-style, these just strike a wrong chord.

But that minor grump aside, Tony Allen's return is all anyone could wish for. It's hot and heavy, exhausting in the best possible way, and as funky as hell. It's literally in a league of its own as the dance record of the year so far. A legend still going where others could only hope to tread.


1. Ise Nla
2. Morose
3. Aye Le
4. Losun
5. One Tree
6. Ole
7. Kilode
8. Awa Na Re
9. Ogogoro
10. Moyege
11. Gbedu

Dec 29, 2010

The Exciting Talkatives - Peace & Love

The leader of this highlife group is Kwabena Ampiah, he is also the lead vocalist. Guitar highlife with additional horn arrangements to make it complete. Nice atmosphere. Mysterious and hypnotising sleeve, appropriate themes, listen to the Exciting Talkatives.


1 Bribery and corruption
2 Susu twa mpowa
3 Papa ye asa
4 Jealous baby
5 Obiara bewu
6 Edwumaye

Dec 28, 2010

Emefe - Music Frees All

ALBUM can be officially downloaded by whatever price you like here!!!


EMEFE (em-ef-ayyy!) is a band lead by Miles Arntzen, a young musician based in New York City. Miles got the group together in December of the year 2009. Inspired by his musical heroes in Antibalas, who encouraged him to study the life and music of Fela Anikulapo Kuti, and Medeski Martin and Wood, who taught him about the importance of the individual and the self in music, Miles started recording demos of the tunes that became EMEFE.

It is important to note that Fela Kuti, the man who created the music we play, lived in a different time - he made his music as a response to the injustices that ruled everyday life in Africa (specifically Nigeria) in the 70's and 80's. His music was about not becoming zombies under the authorities. He sang about not letting the corrupt government officials bring his people down. So why does EMEFE play this music? In the same way that Fela used this music as an escape from and confrontation against the authorities, EMEFE uses it to escape the inner authority inside all of us, the doubts and worries that are there inside our minds every day. Our mission is to use our music to help ourselves and our listeners let go of those trivial negatives that bring us down. We want to fight the inner authorities that we put on ourselves, each for our own specific reasons. With deep respect for Fela Kuti, we are excited to play the music he created - afrobeat - because, simply, it makes us happy. We hope it makes you happy too.

EMEFE also takes inspiration from the improvised music made by Medeski Martin and Wood and other areas of music and life to produce music that makes the listener want to dance in a happy frenzy. Check out our afrobeat funk tunes and give some feedback!

The band could be called an afrobeat band, with influence from Fela Kuti and Antibalas. It could be called a funk band, with influence from Sly, MMW, The Roots, and the Dap-Kings. But what's in a genre? We are, quite simply, EMEFE.

Source: Their myspace page!



Music Frees All, the debut album from NY based afro-funk ensemble Emefe, is a seriously funky collection of eight songs packed with energy and attitude. The album was recorded in the basement of drummer/band-leader Miles Arntzen, and you can hear that raw, untapped energy of young musicians pouring their hearts out onto a track on all eight songs on the album. Emefe is a highly talented group of musicians dedicated to paying homage to the tradition of Fela Anikulapo Kuti and the musicians who have followed in his lineage. This album is a great initial offering and a sign of even greater things to come if the group can continue to work together.

Music Frees All features several tracks that range in tempo and dynamic. Uptempo tracks such as Free Yourself, 221 Groove and Oh, That's What It Is are highly danceable, energizing tracks that will make any dancefloor jump. Slower tracks like The War and Consequence and Sumo are more sneaky, relaxed grooves that showcase Emefe's horn-section and its ability to accentuate winding, languishing lines. There are also tracks that display a range of tempos and dynamics within a single composition such as the opener Jump and Stomp and The Night.

As afrobeat continues to grow and flourish as a growing movement in multiple cities across the globe, bands continue to sprout from every direction. Emefe represents that growing trend of musicians riding the cresting afrobeat wave. While certain bands will label themselves afrobeat without delving into the history of the music or putting in the time to learn the form, Emefe clearly understands and respects those who have came before them in the afro-tradition. Judging from the quality of the horn and percussion arrangements on this album, they know what afrobeat is really about and how to build on its tradition.

Source: The Afrobeat Blog by M.G. Amigone!


1. Jump and Stomp 04:54
2. Free Your Self 04:24
3. The War and Consequence 05:52
4. The Night 04:49
5. 221 Groove 05:07
6. Sumo 06:02
7. Sneaky 06:26
8. Oh, That's What It Is 04:21

ALBUM can be officially downloaded by whatever price you like here!!!

Dec 22, 2010

Hollywood worships Fela Kuti with a movie

Seems like watching Michael Veal’s "Fela!" co-produced by Jay Z, Will Smith and Jada Pinkett is not enough. The $11 million "Fela!" backed by Jay Z, Will Smith and co be a helping hand on the movie of the story of the legendary Fela Kuti by Hollywood film production company.

It all started when the off-broadway was produced in 2008 which features Sahr Ngaujah as Fela. The 2008 off-broadway production received positive review generally from critics like New York Times as well as numerous awards.

Later on, it was premiered on Broadway as a result of the success the off-broadway attained. This time, Nguajah and Kevin Mambo played the Fela’s role since the role was highly demanded. Rumour has it that, D’banj was also screened for Fela’s role in Fela! But was screened out.

The Fela! Broadway which was directed by Bill T. Jones reveals the story of the Nigeria activist and musician, Fela Anikulapo Kuti. Hollywood and the American music industry have been promoting black culture in appreciation of the influence its having on the American entertainment industry. Fela, who has influenced hiphop has got acts like Talib Kweli, Mos def, Common, Alicia keys sampling his music and voice on songs. Lately, he has been compared with Bob Marley as both are seen as human right activist popularizing two main genre of music, reggae and afro beat respectively.

The movie which will be directed by Biyi Bandele and Steve McQueen, the producer of the popular film, “hunger” will be co-produced by James Schamus, who said ‘Fela might be the most globally influential pop artist outside the beatles in the last 50 years. The Broadway show is pure joy, but Steve and Biyi’s vision is very cinematic and distinctive. Fela was a revolution figure in world culture’.

The producers of the movie claimed that Chiwetel Ejiofor, Nigerian-British actor will be playing the role of Fela. Ejiofor who worked with Angelina Jolie in ‘Salt‘ will be learning to play piano and saxophone to prepare him for the role of Fela.

Its good to hear that Fela! Broadway was nominated for ads revival of a musical at the Tony Awards with 10 other nominations. The national tour of the Broadway starts in the fall of 2011 as it will be staged in London by November this year.

by Sonde Jimmy


Nigerian British Hollywood actor, Chiwetel Ejiofor will soon don the role of late Afro Beat legend Fela Anikulapo Kuti, for an upcoming bio-film of Fela, to be directed by Golden Camera winning artist and filmmaker Steve McQueen.

The film will be based on the 1997 book "Fela: The Life and Times Of An African Musical Icon", by Michael Veal.

It's reported that Chiwetel Ejiofor began learning to play the saxophone and piano while on the set of "Salt", to help fully master the upcoming role.

Influenced by the Black Power movement in America, the late great Fela was a key supporter of human rights in Nigeria in the 1970s thru 1980s, releasing several songs which attacked military dictatorship, government and corporate misrule as well as citizen ignorance, in Nigeria and Africa.

Since his death in 1997, his influence grown even more, globally.

It will be remembered that the story of Fela's life has already been adapted into a musical, "FELA!", which was started off-Broadway in 2008 and is currently receiving more acclaim than any other musical this season, with a recent 11 Tony nominations.

The new Fela movie with Chiwetel Ejiofor will be released possibly in 2011 or 2012.


The Nigerian Afro-Funk History Record (by Seal67, 2009)

Thanx for this great article Mr. Seal67!!!

The term Afro-Funk was popularised (and arguably invented) by the enigmatic Tony Allen, Fela’s drummer and creative partner, to symbolise the style he practiced in the mid to late 90s. Afro-Funk has over the years had various definitions; however, I will attempt a simple definition: Afro-Funk is a fusion of Funk music infused with African rhythms and melodies. To properly understand the term Afro-Funk one must look at its component parts. While African rhythms and melodies probably don’t require any explanation, Funk, on the other hand, has a more complex profile.

“Funk” is defined in the dictionary as “a strong odour”. Colloquially, the word has its origins in its use by African-American musicians to describe a more syncopated or rhythmic beat pattern. The word in this context is reputed to have first been used by Earl Palmer, the New Orleans drummer, who was part of Little Richard’s Band in the 1950s. Ironically to musicologists, the syncopated and danceable rhythmic pattern which Funk embodied had its origins in West African traditional music, which in itself found its way into expression in African-American Spiritual/Gospel forms and work chants, eventually evolving into more contemporary Soul, Jazz and R&B forms. Funk is however an amalgam of all these forms, with the underlying West African rhythmic base.

Upon Little Richard’s sabbatical from secular music into the gospel form, there was a mass migration of a large number of his sidemen, including the aforementioned Earl Palmer, into the stable of an emerging superstar of R&B—James Brown. James Brown was instrumental in popularising Funk music as a genre, actively pushing Funk into the global consciousness. His first hits employing the 1-2-3-4 downbeat pattern were “Out of Sight” (1964) and “Papa’s got a Brand New Bag” (1965), followed by “Get Up (Sex Machine)”. Another pioneer of Funk was the phenomenal Sly and the Family Stone, whose hits “Sing a Simple Song”, “Thank You (For Letting Me Be Myself)” and “It’s a Family Affair”, became quintessential poster tunes of Funk music. Particular mention must be made of Larry Graham, bass guitarist for Sly and the Family Stone, who revolutionised the slap-bass style which became a staple of Funk and R&B.

Funk evolved progressively over the years: the 1970s was the P-Funk era, revolutionised by George Clinton with his bands Parliament and Funkadelic, followed by Bootsy Collins (who incidentally was James Brown’s bassist). Withthe 1980s came the stripped-down Funk era popularised by Rick James, Prince, Cameo, The Gap Band, Dazz Band, One Way, and a whole host of other bands with the same central rhythmic driving pattern incorporated with West African genetic origins. Then came the 1990s and 2000s with Funk’s re-incorporation into popular music which cut across ethnic barriers (“Travelling without Motion”, which was one of the biggest selling Funk albums of this period, was from the all-white English band Jamiroquai.

Several variants of Funk emerged in the 70s and 80s. One of these styles was Electro-Funk/Hip-Hop, which was pioneered by acts such as Afrika Bambataa, Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five, and The Sugarhill Gang. Jazz Funk was another popular variant which emerged in the early 70s through the effort of the pianists Herbie Hancock and Bob James, vibraphonist Roy Ayers, and many others.


The key principle behind the emergence of Afro-Funk is the fusion of various styles from across ethnic genres. Nigerian contemporary music as a musical form was characterised by the fusion of Western and local elements which can be traced to the beginning of the 20th century when the first popular recordings were released. Artistes like Justus Domingo and Irewolede Denge sang in Yoruba while using Western instruments such as the guitar and banjo. These early styles, infused with an African rhythm section, evolved into the Juju music of Tunde King and Ayinde Bakare in the 1930s.

Aside from the obvious fusion engendered by the use of Western instruments, there was the tendency for African musicians in the early and mid-20th century to assimilate Western styles. Even credible performers like Irewolede Denge and Dickson Oludaiye fell into this trap, as can be noted when one listens to their earliest recordings. In “Orin Asape Eko” (1929), the singing style adopted—even though it was sung in the Yoruba languaget—was so heavily influenced by 1920s American Jazz tunes to be Jolsonesque in delivery.

Some great African bands emerged in this era, which, whilst focusing on their core genre, still diversified into foreign-influenced form to satisfy the appetite of an audience which had a taste for diverse styles. For instance, one of E.T. Mensah’s most popular hits, “Day by Day”, was clearly influenced by Calypso rhythms. Also, combos like The Cool Cats were playing to a strong captive audience with their fare of Jazz and Soul. So it was only a matter of time before the ever-increasing influence of Funk found disciples within the Nigerian Music scene.

One of the first superstars of Funk (not Afro-Funk) in Nigeria was incidentally not Nigerian—he was Gerald Pyne (known by his stage name Geraldo Pino), the son of a Sierra Leonean lawyer settled in Nigeria, who took the country by storm in the mid-60’s with his explosive live performances. Pino became the Funk Ambassador of Nigeria and with time became one of the most popular musicians in the contemporary music scene, with a larger-than-life image to boot.

Pino’s influence was not lost on a struggling but hugely talented, classically trained trumpeter, Fela Ransome-Kuti, who had been prominent in the small UK Jazz crowd whilst still a student. Performing Highlife and Jazz tunes initially Fela eventually fused these two musical forms into a workable hybrid with his excellent band, The Koola Lobitoes. However Fela was the first to admit that Pino’s Funk Train—at the early stage—blew away the opposition, even Fela himself. The turning point however came when Fela went on his first tour of the UK in 1968 and a subsequent tour of the US in 1969, from which he came back a different man—completely radicalised, politically and musically. After his return, Fela developed his Highlife/Jazz fusion platform into a deeper, more visceral sound, by fusing Jazz with a more traditional African rhythmic pattern and the now independent musical style of Funk. The greatest examples of this new emergence are the seminal tracks “Jeun Koku” (Chop and Quench), “Funky Horn”, “Fight to Finish” and “Don’t Gag Me”. Through these recordings Fela became the flag-bearer of a genre which had slowly emerged from the winding origins of African music, exported to America during the Slave trade and refined into a new independent form—Funk—which, in the new era and as a result of the curiosity of African musicians, had found its way back to Africa, this time fused into a unit with its African musical ancestor.

Whilst Fela gave face to the new movement, his music in truth was something different—his musical form had a strong Jazz element and was in his own description more Afro-Beat than Afro-Funk—from the tunes which were being produced by young bands all around Nigeria, who started out playing covers of Rock and Roll and subsequently Soul and R&B music, and who wittingly (like Fela) or unwittingly fused those forms with African influences. Fela however gave form, direction and influence to the emerging genre; his contribution transcended Afro-Funk as a genre and is definitely beyond the limitations of an article of this breadth.

One of the earliest influences on this trend towards the new musical genre was Orlando Julius, whose early tracks “Efoye So” and “Mapami” betrayed the strong hybrid influence of Funk and Afro Rhythms; however, Pino remained the man to beat and behind him came a new generation of acts who increasingly gained prominence. In the East of the country in particular, there emerged a strong generation of bands, who cut their teeth in the Soul scene of the mid 60s but who sadly got caught up in the Nigerian Civil War and who ironically survived by playing to entertain the soldiers—who indeed were the only ones who could afford to pay the musicians. Bands that emerged during this period include the Strangers led by Bob Miga, whose track “Love Rock” was one of the biggest selling singles for EMI in 1970.Another band that was of this period was Airforce Wings, led by Dannie Ian, which became the Wings after the War and gained prominence after Ian was replaced by Emeka “Spud Nathan” Udensi. Dannie “Ian” Mbaezue later recorded one of the most popular tracks of the era “Fuel for Love” with his band Wrinkers Experience. Other bands which deserve mention are The Hykkers (featuring Jake Sollo and Joe Juwe on guitars), Cyclops and The Spades.

Some young bands emerged in the late 60s in the northern part of the country. The Sunflowers—managed by Sunny Okogwu (Miriam Babangida’s older brother) and featuring the young Mike Appoh, who later emerged as a legendary Highlife saxophonist and bandleader—was one of such groups. Laolu Akins, then a prodigiously talented young drummer, was also a member of this group. Another young but extremely important band was The Moonrakers, which- also featured Mike Appoh and the awesome guitarist Frank Martins.

In Lagos a number of young bands emerged with a newly defined earthy sound. One of these was The Cutes, led by the inimitable Dom Bruce. The Cutes featured two talented guitarists: one was Jimmy Lee (who later joined Monomono) and the other Harry Jones. Another important member of the band was the ground-breaking bassist, Pedro, whose unique style blended the deepest Afro-Rhythms with the purest Funk progressions—in short, Afro-Funk.

The Thermometers was another young Lagos combo worthy of remembrance. But the best of the Lagos crowd was Segun Bucknor and The Assembly, whose hits “Adonrisogba Sogba”, “Poor Man No Get Brother” and “Dye Dye” were comparable in musicianship to anything available in the Soul/Funk era.

However the emergence of Afro-Funk as a pure musical genre was, in my view, crystallised with a recording by a five-member group of ex-Biafran soldiers with a young Highlife crooner at the helm. This recording was “Akula (Owu Onyeara)” by The Funkees. This band comprised of some of the most solid musicians in the East at the time. For lead vocals was Mohammed Ahidjo (former lead singer with The Atomic 8 of Aba and who sang the hit “Angelina Pay My Money”); lead guitar was Jake Sollo (formerly of the Hykkers); Harry Mosco was rhythm guitar; Sonny Akpan, congas; Billy Ike played the organ and Chike Madu the drums. The track “Akula”, according to Danny Ibe, was recorded on a four-track mixer in the most primitive of surroundings, but it still went on to become one of the most powerful tracks ever produced in Nigeria misic. “Akula”, simply put, revolutionised Afro-Funk. The track combined native Igbo rhythms in the bass line and percussions, which simultaneously displayed the classic syncopation of Funk. The more conventional Funk characteristics in the track were displayed in the Funky guitar and Hammond Organ arrangements, while the vocalisation—which was a unique concept for an African band, —was more akin to a Rock vocal performance. In short, these elements blended into a raw, tight unit.

After this track followed a whole swathe of ground-breaking recordings from other bands which further established Afro-Funk as a genre. Amongst the first was the ground-breaking album “Chapter 1” by BLO, which was released by EMI in 1974 and which featured the talented trio of Laolu Akins on drums, Berkeley Ike Jones on guitar and Mike Odumosu on bass. This band was particularly important on account of their pedigree. Berkeley Jones and Laolu Akins had, in 1971, been recruited by Ginger Baker as part of his travelling band SALT, and had toured the UK with him. The album was instrumentally one of the most advanced albums to come from a Nigerian band at the time. This album was subsequently followed by their second album “Phase 2”, with massive tracks like “Don’t Take Her Away From Me”, “Native Doctor” and “Atide”.

Another important record was “Give the Beggar a Chance” by Monomono, which featured the bass heroics of Kenneth Okulolo and the vocal mastery of Joni Haastrup. Joni Haastrup in his own right was one of the most important figures in contemporary Nigerian music, on account of his other seminal Afro-Funk hits under Monomono, such as “Ipade Aladun” and the excellent “Tire Lomada Nigbehin”. it was also during this period that “Odenigbo” and “I’ve Been Loving You” was released by The Wings and also “Look at the World” by One World (One World was a splinter group formed after the breakup of The Strangers and the band showcased the excellent vocals of Sam Matthews as well as the talent of Funk guitarist Anii Hoffner. There was also “Masquerade” and “More Bread to the People” by The Aktions, which was led by Lemmy Faith and Renny on bass. Mention must also be made of Headzfunk and Akwassa, two exceptional bands which had the same personnel but co-existed simultaneously. Both bands featured Felix Odey (Feladey) on guitar and Eddie Offeyi on drums, and had to their credit a monster track in 1975 that was called “Be Yourself”.

The Afro-Funk revolution reached its peak in 1974 with the advent of what was to be Nigeria’s most popular school band ever, the awesome Ofege and their seminal album “Try and Love”. The youth band featured students of St Gregory’s College, Lagos (my alma mater).There was Melvin Ukachi on vocals, Paul Alade on bass, and also Mike Meme, Soga Benson and Dapo Olumide and the session effort of Berkeley Jones on guitar and Laolu Akins on drums. The album was produced by the great Odion Iruoje of EMI. “Try and Love” was another milestone in the Nigerian Afro-Funk story, with tracks like “Whizzy Ilabo, “Nobody fail”, “Ofege” and “Gbe Mi Lo”. Ofege’s live performances were a study in dedicated musicianship and vibrant youth culture at a time of plenty in Nigerian history: the band represented the joy and optimism of a country enjoying prosperity under the “oil boom” as well as the rebelliousness of youth. I remember my sister getting warned off ogling over pictures of the Ofege stars. Ofege were to influence a generation of high school and university Afro-Funk bands such as Tirogo, led by a young (and exceptionally talented) Funmi Onabolu; Salty and Koku (featuring the talented Sultan Anibaba on Bass) and BAC Foundation, to name a few.

I must also mention what may be described as the Benin “mafia”, meaning the rich storehouse of talent that Benin City produced and whose sounds promoted the new genre. In the vanguard was the genius of Victor Uwaifo, whose initial material was in the Highlife genre, but who with his “Ekassa” albums diversified into a deeper Funky sound which integrated native Benin rhythms in a fantastic blend. Notable examples of this style are “Do do do Ekassa” and “Ekayan Ekassa”. Other artistes of note were Osayomore Joseph, with the excellent “Eguae Oba”; Leo Fadaka and the Heroes, with “Blak Sound”; and my favourite, Collins Oke Elaiho and his Odoligie Nobles Band, with their influential track “Simini Yaya”.

At this juncture it should be mentioned that the common thread between all these artistes is the excellent musicianship and the faultless blend of the pure Funk instrumentation and the deep native soul rhythms of their productions, only possible on account of the ancestral affinity between Funk and West African Rhythm.

In the late 1970s up till the 1980s Nigerian Afro-Funk declined, with the big record companies preferring a more Calypso or Disco oriented beat in recordings- with the notable exception of a couple of outstanding seminal works from two artistes Kris Okotie- via the album “I need someone” and the exceptional Gbugbemi Amas- via his “Amas Grill” album- . Also, the US and UK Disco scene literally obliterated the influence of Afro-Funk, with the same record companies obtaining licences to sell these albums in Nigeria to a captive audience. Mention however must be made of an important album released in the US in 1980—which was more or less at the end of the Afro-Funk revolution in Nigeria—by the Nigerian Aleke Kanonu, which featured a young Wynton Marsalis on Flugelhorn and which had an awesome compliment of tracks like “Ngwode” and the excellent “Nwanne Nwanne”. Aleke Kanonu was a percussionist from Ukwuani in Delta State, who learned his trade from his father, who was himself a native drummer.

Afro-Funk never re-emerged in Nigeria, unlike in the USA, where there was a re-emergence of its hybrid counterpart Funk in the 90s and early 2000s. However, with the re-emergence of Funk on the global landscape Nigerian Afro-Funk bands experienced a renaissance of sorts as compilation albums of their work were released in Europe. Examples of these include Duncan Brookers “Afro-Rock”, featuring Geraldo Pino, and Quinton Scott’s “Nigeria 70”, featuring a whole host of Nigerian Afro-Funk groups. Tony Allen however is the biggest face of the re-emergence of Afro-Funk (and fittingly too, being one of its most important innovative fathers). His album “Home Cooking”, produced by the British superstar Damon Albarn, was a classic study in Afro-Funk structure; as was his recent contribution to the international hit album “The Good, the bad and the Queen”. Afro-Funk also found a live stage re-emergence with the Funkees being featured as opening act for Pharaoh Saunders at the Brighton Festival in 2003 and also on their own bill at the Jazz Café in the same year (for the Jazz Cafe gig, yours truly was drafted in on lead vocals in the absence of Mohammed Ahidjo).

In addition mention must be made of the sterling contributions of a new generation of Nigerian Afro-Funk stars of which particular mention must be made of Dele Sosimi- who cut his teeth as a young Keyboardist- whilst part of the original Egypt 80 (as distinct from Africa 70) and who has stayed faithful to the cause of Afro-Beat, but diversifying into a more mainstream and indeed original Funk feel; the inimitable Keziah Jones- whose albums- “Blufunk is a fact” and more particularly “Black Orpheus” – apart from their commercial appeal, have been part of a truly serious drive by this gentleman to tap into the storehouse of musical power that Afro-Funk represents, whilst coursing an original musical direction of his own. Also Ayetoro, Harri Best, Mike Aremu (though more Gospel based in his orientation), Kola Ogunkoya, Juwon Ogungbe refreshingly back from a sabbatical, Gboyega Oyedele and a whole host of other talented and hard-working artistes, who have doggedly persisted in promoting the genre.

In 1996, a particularly important revival or re-congregation of the old Afro-Funk stars of the 60's and 70's took place in the course of the famous weekend Jam sessions initially at the private residence of Captain Emma Anyanwu and subsequently culminating in the De Captain's series ?(this being a venue in Ikeja Lagos) which featured a who's who of the old boys of Afro-Funk ranging from Laolu Akins to Lemmy Faith and Rennie Pearl of the Aktions, Ahmed Moore of the Strangers, Emma China of the Wings, Feladey and Eddie Offeyi of Headzfunk etc and with the central axis of a group of young professionals, with a love of music such as Captain Anyanwu, Tony Martins, George Anozie, the late Captain Ebi Okudu, Emeka Nwandu, Sultan Anibaba and yours truly amongst several others. These sessions were extremely important in that they formed a focal point for the old boys to get together, perform and be seen once again.

Mention also must be made of a number of independent labels that have in the present day continued to influence and propagate the cause- Kayode Samuel's Ekostar, Quinton Scott's Afrostrut, Miles Clerets series, Duncan Brooker's Afro-Rock, the inimitable STORM Records of Obi Asika, Olisa Adibuah and Nnamdi Eneli. Special mention should be made of two incredible bloggers who have been outstanding in propagating information on the history of Nigerian music namely WithCombandRazor and Likembe.Also mention must be made of the sterling efforts of Club owner Muyiwa Majekodunmi, whose Iconic venue "Jazzville" provided a platform for several Afro-Funk veterans (Willie Bestman being an example) to ply their trade in the lean years.

The legacy of Afro-Funk still endures in the consciousness of true music lovers, with seminal Afro-Funk records such as the albums of Aleke Kanonu and Ofege being sold for as much as $200.00 on collector’s sites. And as for the fact that Nigeria was the crucible wherein the melding of this high artistic form came to occur—that is a legacy for which we can all be proud.

Thanx for this great article Mr. Seal67!!!


Some further information:

Pioneers of Nigerian Afro-Funk- Where are they now

Geraldo Pino:
Pino died in Port Harcourt in late 2008 after a brief illness,, he had held sway as King of the music scene and almost after receiving long overdue accolade in the UK with a concert at the Royal Festival Hall.

Bob Miga:
Keyboardist and leader of The Strangers. Miga settled in London as a staff of the Nigeria High Commission. He recently retired from the diplomatic service and is said to be living quietly in London with his family.

Dannie “Ian” Mbaezue:
Former lead singer of The Spades, The Wings and Wrinkars Experience. He explored a career as a Highlife musician after the demise of his Pop career and and is said to be a running a trading business. He was recently seen on stage in Nigeria in 2006 at a PMAN sponsored event.

Laolu Akins:
After his stint with BLO Akins had a successful career as the influential A&R Manager of Sony Music. He now works as a consultant, and divides his time between the UK and Nigeria.

Mike Appoh:
Appoh went on to a career as a super session-man and producer, working with diverse acts like Lenny Kravitz, The Real Thing, Onyeka Onwenu, Majek Fashek and many more. For many years he worked in the UK Civil Service until his recent retirement and currently plays infrequently, usually for charity and educational purposes.

Mohammed Ahidjo:
Ahidjo’s career stands out as one of the most distinguished yet unrewarded. After providing Dan Satch and the Atomic 8 of Aba with one of their biggest hits, “Baby Pay My Money”, for which he was neither paid nor given credit on the album, he joined the Funkees, from which, after the dissolution of the band, he did not receive the requisite terminal benefits. due. He currently lives in London, where he runs a trading business.

Danny Ibe:
Bassist/songwriter of The Funkees, Ibe re-trained as a lawyer and has worked as an immigration lawyer for many years. He recently released a solo album.

Joni Haastrup:
Haastrup, before joining Monomono, had toured the UK with Ginger Baker as part of his band Air force (he replaced Steve Winwood). He later returned to the UK after Monomono, working as a much sought-after session-man. He then moved to the US, where he got a band together, after he which he became a music teacher in California interspersed with a career as a super-session-man. His name can be found on the credits of some major works, such as Chris Isaaks albums in the early 90s.

Lemmy Faith:
Lead Singer of The Aktions. Faith travelled to the UK in the mid 70s and remained there until he returned to Nigeria in 1996 at the behest of his brother Andy Nwani. He ran a small music studio and equipment rentals business. He died in 2007.

Felix Odey:
Feladey had an extremely resilient career after his time with Headzfunk/Akwassa, emerging as part of the combo Japadodo and releasing his own solo album in 1995. He set up a successful band playing out of Mobil Eket in the late 90s and currently runs a successful business in the same area.

Eddie Offeyi:
After Headzfunk/Akwassa, Offeyi joined up with Kristie Essien-Igbokwe’s Gold Train Orchestra, of which he was for many years Bandleader. Offeyi, who recently turned 60, occupies his time now as a session-man.

Sultan Anibaba:
After Salty and Koku, he trained as an Architect and currently lives in the UK - running an Architecutural Consultancy.

Melvin Ukachi:
After Ofege, Ukachi embarked on a modest solo career. He currently resides in the USA.

Dapo Olumide:
Olumide later became a pilot and was at one timea senior manager at Aero Contractors in Lagos.

Funmi Onabolu:
The former keyboardist of the boy band Tirogo is now a leading advertising and media executive on the Board of Bates and Cosse, Lagos.

Dec 21, 2010

Sampler: South African Funk Experience


2010 collection. With the World Cup in South Africa set to dominate the cultural agenda this summer, we thought it would be timely for a compilation of the funkiest vintage grooves from 1960s-1980s South Africa. Styles range from traditional Zulu, Shangaan and Sotho funky sounds through to Jo'burg's '70s and '80s JB wannabees, and on into deep Jazz-Funk and spiritual Dance-Jazz work-outs; all funky, forgotten S.A. dancefloor gems derived from John's own vinyl collection, the majority of which have never before appeared on CD.



The funkiest vintage grooves from 1960s-1980s South Africa!

Funky forgotten South African dancefloor gems most of which have never been issued on CD before! Styles range from traditional Zulu, Shangaan and Sotho funky sounds through to Jo'burg's 70s and 80s JB wannabees, and on into deep jazzfunk and spiritual dance-jazz work-outs!

In the myriad Afro Funk, Afro Beat and Afro Jazz reissues and compilations of the last few years, the name of South Africa has been unaccountably absent: South Africa has always had the largest music industry in the whole of Africa by a long, long way and "South African Funk Experience" features the artists who rocked the blacks-only shebeens, brothels and bars of Soweto, and the notorious migrant camps' Saturday night dances.



1. Oh Yeh Soweto - Teaspoon & The Waves
2. Wozan Mahipi - Mahlathini & Mahotella Queens
3. Sangoma - Malombo
4. Jabula Happniess - Jabula ft. Vicky Mhlongo
5. Intombi Ibhinca Isidwaba - Phuzushukela
6. Bayeza - Soul Brothers
7. MRA - Chris McGregor s Brotherhood of Breath
8. Hula Hoop Jive - Kataki
9. Kikizelani - Nelcy Sedibwe
10. Jive Soweto - Sipho Hot Stix Mabuse
11. Madyisa Mbitsi - J. Chauke
12. Baloyi - Dudu Pukwana & Spear
13. Malume - Abafakasi
14. African Jive - Dick Khoza
15. Asambeni Bafana - Mahotella Queens
16. Lily Express - Gwigwi s Band
17. Thululalele - Amazwazi Emvelo
18. Zandile Jive - Lulu & His Boys & Girls

Interview with Dede Mabiaku (Nigeria, 2009)

The interview

Dede Mabiaku is the reporter’s delight any day. And just like his late mentor and Afro beat legend, Fela Anikulapo- Kuti, his word leaves a delightful echo in the ear. Twelve years after the Fela, otherwise known as Abami Eda, (The man with death in his pouch) passed on, the Warri, Delta State born musician is yet to release his debut album.

But you’ve not been playing for long.

The moment you get married, it is a different scene entirely. With my band, yes. It’s been long. But like I said, I was away. I had been living in Ghana, not in Nigeria. So, I put the band on break.

What were you doing in Ghana?

Actually, I went there for arts related business in music. I’m into different things in the arts world. Music alone has its own time. We must know that people learn different things in life as they progress. Well, I was in Ghana. And it was another education for me, understanding what production was all about.

Learning musical production?

Yes, musical production. I was into studio technology and the rest of them and then I was also performing. But in all, I went to Ghana to catch some rest. I needed it.

You were learning production in Ghana. Aren’t there good studios in Nigeria?

No, I said there are good studios. The scene in Ghana was very convenient for me to study, to learn what I wanted to learn. There was much to learn and the shows I had in Ghana with my band were different. I recorded in different places. I recorded in Ghana in 2000, in 1998 first, as a matter of fact. I recorded with a friend of mine in 2002. I recorded in Nigeria also. So, I understand the patience level of the Ghanian studio. It is different from the patience level of the Nigerian studio. The business schedule of the Ghanian studio is different from that of the Nigerian studio. I found my better option in Ghana.

Afrobeat. Which country is better- Ghana or Nigeria?

Nigeria, because that’s the source. Ghana has an understanding of Afrobeat from their direct contact with Fela when he went to Ghana. And so they are in love with Afro-beat based on that. But not as much as Nigerians. Well, you physically dress to adapt to your style of music, though I wouldn’t want to call it Afro-beat anymore. Yeah, Afro-beat is a serious education of comparative high life.

Are we looking at the Oni dodo and the Koola Lobito level of those days?

No, I thought back to one time when Fela used to gist with me. He would say, ‘Dede, look there is one thing I want you to do. Go and listen to those high life days of old…. When you listen to them, then you will begin to understand the ingredients of a true African music. You must go back and start to listen to these things. And then go and start listening to reggae…rhythm and blues. You need to educate yourself and improve based on the knowledge you gain. After a few years, I decided to study properly.

The years of sacrifice, moving from one country to another playing music. One would have expected that you’ve learnt enough to tell Nigeria, this is what I learnt from the master. I think you’re missing the point because Nigerians are already knowing and feeling what I learnt from the master. It’s simply wrong if you say I have not done anything within these periods. Then, that’s not putting it in the right context. As far as music is concerned, nobody can say I’m not delivering the way I need to.

Then, why haven’t you produced an album?

If you’re talking about releasing an album, that’s a different cup of tea, and I have my reasons for not wanting to do that yet. This is because I discovered certain things we have to do.

What were those things?

It got to a stage where some powers said that we cannot even play music; that we should just step away from it; we should not even attempt it. I didn’t think that was the case. I thought very strongly that if the source had to be in existence and in these present time of ours, then without the foundation, we are nothing. I had to make sure that these things that we are doing will gain more essence. So I sacrificed all to make sure that the original unit that is Fela’s Egypt 80 band was standing firm. Secondly, I had to make sure also that the top of that unit stands solid and is able to carry on where it needs to carry on. So ultimately, until that was done, then I can start doing the remaining things that I need to do.

And what were the remaining things that you needed to do?

You know them now, at least by now you see say the band don strong. I remember many years back, we brought the whole band to sit here and start to structure how Fela used to do his music itself. Seun was in school, in Liverpool then, and it was me with the team. They (Egypt 80 band) will give you the story and details of what happened. I left every thing undone, sacrificed for the band because it was important. I had to do all these because I knew Seun had a lot to offer because he is the last of the origin. Remember Fela handed him over to me. Today, they are doing very well all over the world and I’m happy and proud.

But somebody at that time said the reason you didn’t want to release an album was because you were scared of being judged?

I know that many years ago, you heard some songs from my album The green and white one. That was part of what we were pushing forward at that time. The reason why we stopped that was because we knew within ourselves that it had to be stopped.
But for me, spiritually, that happened because it had to stop for me to concentrate on what I needed to do ultimately because if I had taken my focus from what was happening with the band, it wouldn’t have been good for all of us. Can you be more specific. Now that you are back in

Nigeria, what are we expecting from Dede?

We are starting performances fully now. Thank God it’s home first and we are going to Warri.

This is your first show in how many years in Nigeria?

We did a show in December in Calabar for the carnival. It was the jazz fiesta. It featured Hugh Masakela, Asha and my band. The music was well taken in Calabar. But after that performance, I sent the band on break pending my return to Nigeria fully. I am happy they understood and also happy the guys stood by me. They know there is something to offer. That’s why we are back on track. Let’s talk about your personal life. Someone said the reason you went to Ghana was because of a woman. Before I met the woman I married, I had been going to Ghana. I have been going to Ghana since 1995. Usually, I’d spend about two weeks, just to rest and come back so that they don’t take you on a wrong drive.

In later years (2000) when I went to Ghana, I stayed for three months. So it’s not true that a woman made me settle in Ghana. I stayed there myself intentionally and when I went back in 2002, I stayed for four months. But you didn’t meet her in your first few years in Ghana.

I met her when I turned 40. In my life, I had seen it all and I felt there was nothing left but to get married. Besides, I liked her. So, I thought I should just get married, after all it’s not a crime. I went into it to feel and experience what marriage was all about.

I have heard that your ex- girl, Bimbo is back. No, Bimbo and I are just friends and we remained friends, even when I got married. So, what is between us today is just purely friendship, like a brother and sister thing. It is very deep and nothing can change that.

But sometimes, I ask myself why real friends can’t get married and still remain friends?

The point is that the moment you get married, it is a different scene entirely. The ownership clause comes in and that becomes the major problem because she wants to own her own sector and the man wants to dominant his domain. And when that happens, you must compromise. But when it’s not working the right way, it’s stupid to continue to break your head. It is better you remain friends and have peace of mind.

Now that you have tested marriage, would you like to test it again?

No, I won’t get married again. I don’t need it. I have children.

How would your dad feel knowing that his first son is not married?

You are getting the whole picture wrong. Marriage is different from companionship.

Do you have sisters and brothers?

Plenty. You can’t even count. My family members are calm and very reserved. They don’t like publicity. But I am different for I am the only one in the eye of the public. I am very happy with the profession I chose. Recently, some group of persons gathered and said they were embarking on hunger strike to protest against piracy.

What’s your take on this?

That time when Fela was talking about piracy, he did it alone without anybody. Other musicians didn’t support him. Some went behind his back and paid radio stations to play their music. And Fela at that point was saying the reverse should be the case, they should pay the musicians.

Fela was exposed to the people abroad. He was receiving royalty from those units and he believed that the same system should start to function here in Nigeria. Because nobody supported his campaign, today we are going back to the same old story. Right now, I think we are going about it the wrong way. Let’s be realistic. When we talk of piracy, I ask, ‘ have we been able to identify how piracy came in the first place?’ We need to identify them because there was a hollow in the music industry.

The market unit collapsed, the artiste and repertoire unit collapsed, the management of artiste themselves collapsed, the recording company, many of them folded up. So, ultimately what happened was that it became an all comers affair.

These people you call pirates, are they not human beings? Since dem no be spirits, they have addresses where they operate from. And the people know who sell for them. Instead of fighting these people, get the data base of all of them, identify their marketing units, legitimize them and lecture them on what they stand to gain if they become the real marketing outlets. But if you are not interested in following the part of peace and you want to kill their units directly, then go directly and destroy their companies.

Blow them up but that’s not what you want to do. The issue of piracy started here because there was no structures on ground. Some people had to do something to keep the music industry breathing. So, what you need to do now is make them understand what it would take for them to be credible and legitimate.

So, when are we expecting your new album?

To pin a date on it now won’t be proper. There is a team working on a package locally and internationally and that team is what I am working with now. I am going by what they have laid down. They want to do proper management structuring and I’m ready for them. They were here recently and they came in from Paris. We spent time together with the band and they were very happy with what they saw on ground. We’ve started the ball rolling. So, let’s give Dede the support now because he is back on stage live. Let’s have fun men.


Dec 20, 2010

African Psychedelic: Ofege - Try and Love


This album is the first reissue project on the new Academy LPs imprint, which is an offshoot of the generally awesome Academy Records store in Williamsburg Brooklyn. A group of secondary school teenagers from Lagos, Nigeria cut this record in the early 70's. With guitars chiming in the forefront, the band romps through a set of killer Afrodelic psych-rock. Apparently it was a huge success in Nigeria when it was released, and it is not hard to see why. These dudes prove there was more to the Afro rock sound than endless Fela funk jams.



Ofege was formed by a bunch of teenage hipsters at the prestigious St. Gregory's College in the Obalende area of Lagos. Comband Razor described them as "a cross between the Bay City Rollers and Santana". He also said "It's clear that for Ofege, songs were largely incidental, little more than excuses to launch into insane, distorted guitar solos. It's also very clear that they smoked a lot of weed."

"The Last Of The Origins" is a great rock record with a rather psychedelic approach. The rhythm section is attractive and complex and has African inspirations. The songs themselves aren’t really great lyrically, but the drive is incredible, and everywhere they can they add attention to instrumental parts where the organ, in a psychedelic way takes care of mind-losing groove, while fuzz guitars soar and improvise. The vocals can be post-60s, a bit Stones like or just leave themselves flooding with the psychedelic drive.

"Try and Love" from the same year was published actually before "The Last of the Origins". "Nobody Fails" continues in the same vain, with slight what I called post-60s harmony vocals (also especially “It’s not easy” has such vocals). Also here in this song the fuzz breaks out/breaks free, wild and uncompromising, while the rhythms in an African way are repeated and smoothly carry the song. Also here the bits of funky elements are completely dissolved in the psychedelic effect of all. The rhythms are complex and groovy.

It took some years before other albums appeared. Some members still had to finish university.

Paul Alade (bass, vocals), Dapo Olumide (keyboards), Melvin Noks (= Melvin Anokuru or Melvin Ukachi ?) (guitar, lead vocals, percussion), M-Ike Meme (drums, vocals, percussion) and Filix Inneh (vocals, gong).

Source is the amazing!!! Thank you very much for this information!!


A blistering set of Afro-Funk from the 70s – the debut of Ofege, a band of high school students at the time! There's a really trippy sound to the set, as the guitars figure strongly in the groove, and are often recorded with some slightly psychedelic touches – similar to Blo or some of the other headier groups of this generation. Wah wah lines often mix in with straighter fuzzed-out solos – all driven strongly together by quick-snapping drums – and vocals are by a young-voiced singer who brings some sweet soul touches to the English-language lyrics – a nice contrast to the heavier sounds of the guitars! Titles include "Nobody Fails", "It's Not Easy", "Ofege", "You Say No", "Lead Me On", and "Try & Love".



Nigerian high school students. Afrobeat/pop with psych-fuzz guitar solos. Very very catchy stuff! It may sound a little slight at first, but the tunes really grow on you, and the grooves are as irresistable as a Fela record. This one goes for hundreds of bucks on eBay. One track from this album appears on the African volume of the Peace, Love, and Poetry series.



Long acknowledged as a masterpiece of psychedelic Afro-Rock, Academy Records is proud to present the debut of Nigerian group OFEGE. Recorded while the band members were still in high school, Ofege's debut album Try And Love was originally recorded & released in 1973. Due to their vibrant combo of sweet harmonies, hooks & fuzz, they would become one of the most legendary Nigerian groups of all time. Fully licensed and painstakingly mastered from the best possible sources, Try and Love is available as a high quality virgin vinyl pressing and a deluxe digipack CD. Both versions have brand new liner notes with an interview about the recordings of Try And Love.



01. Nobody Fails 4:24
02. Whizzy Ilabo 3:32
03. Gbe Mi Lo 4:15
04. Try And Love 4:19
05. It's Not Easy 4:25
06. Ofege 4:00
07. You Say No 4:09
08. Lead Me On 3:23

Femi Kuti - Concerts Reviews 2009/2010

Femi Kuti in Sydney, Australia

Afrobeat has undergone somewhat of a renaissance in circles outside the normal purveyors of world music. In particular there have been some stellar compilations on the Soundways label that have exposed many unsung heroes of afrobeat and its various versions of psychedelic, disco, rock and funk. The figurehead of the genre was Nigeria’s Fela Kuti who reigned supreme in the 70s, bringing his vision of African music to the masses. Thankfully his eldest son Femi has continued his father’s legacy and as such there was a fair amount of expectation in the air at the Metro for their Sydney show.

There is an inherent joy in watching a large band on stage who don’t sound like 14 musicians all vying for space in the mix. The band entered in stages, first the core guitar/drums/bass/keys section followed by a conga line of the quintet horn section and finally the three dancers/ occasional backup singers. From the opening snare crack it was clear the band was going to be exceptionally tight. It hit you in the chest before the bass and guitar spiraled off with a controlled sense of abandon.

Kuti skipped onstage looking the bandleader part and tall, full of energy and communicative intent. From there on in it was an intoxicating blend of funk, soul and jazz that either strove to sweetly seduce or demand that feet were moved and arms raised high. Kuti established from the outset that they were going to be playing a few tracks from his new album Africa For Africa and indeed a stretched out version of the title track was one of the highlights on the night.

Kuti’s dancers inevitably caught the eye of much of the audience with their tribal set moves and hyper-booty shaking. Their backing vocals were definitely not the reason why they were hired for the band but in terms of colour and fun they were a great enhancement to the music.

Femi Kuti has strong social and/or political motives running through many of his songs and we were treated to his seemingly simple solution to the struggles of Haiti following the earthquake as well as some instructional advice for young men wanting to please their ladies. Aside from the banter Kuti controlled the band with excited hand gestures, furiously pumped fists and his chant/sing vocal stylings and they responded with fluid soloing and such a relaxed demeanor.

Because the sermonizing was thankfully kept to a minimum between the songs – it left the band to make the bigger statement with brutally precise drumming, guitar that seemed to have an endless supply of effortless melodic runs, tasteful keyboard work and that well drilled horn section.

What Kuti proved was that righteous music with messages doesn’t need to be dull and inspiring like a rally to the converted. He knows that the music is the priority, the vessel for those messages when the time and place is right. The gig also served to give wider perception to those who only tread in the shallows of African music. By not succumbing to only using traditional instrumentation or musicality he has created a music of his continent that includes other cultures by the use of shared commonality via guitars, bass, drums etc. This was a show that felt communal, uplifting and celebratory all at one.



Femi Kuti in Edinburg, Scotland

If the snow in the capital’s Lothian Road started to melt ever so slightly around 9pm on Wednesday, that would have been due to the arrival onstage of the band Femi Kuti calls the Positive Force.

The son of Fela Kuti, the legendary Nigerian musician, Afrobeat founder and political activist, Kuti sent his band out first to warm things up, and with a five-piece horn section specialising in rapid fire fanfares, three spectacularly gyrating backing vocalists and an industrious rhythm section including a drummer whose kick drum comes from the wrecking-ball school of emphasis, the force was felt immediately.

Kuti himself entered looking cooler than cool but this impression didn’t last. With a performance style that can only be described as wholehearted, he launched into songs from his latest album, Africa for Africa, with vehemence, his free hand beating the air impatiently, and he was soon reaching for his towel.

In a set that ran to almost two hours, including a generous encore section, Kuti only stood still to play his Hammond keyboard or tilt his trumpet and alto saxophone into the mic while he played imprecatory lines and improbably long notes through circular breathing.

His aim is to serve up strong medicine – diatribes on poverty in Africa and corruption and greed in the continent’s politicians – in a sweet drink and in case the message got over-diluted, he delivered a rambling lecture that rather broke the spell.

The music itself, however, as it paused, faded and erupted to Kuti’s James Brown-like conducting methods, was impressive and for those two hours Lothian Road might have been in Lagos.



Femi Kuti in London, England

A couple of miles across town, the National Theatre continued to host its airbrushed version of the life of Fela Kuti. His son Femi whipped a similar mixture of drumming and brass and politics and sex – “You can’t talk about politics without talking about sex” – into a high-energy show at the Barbican.

“This is Lagos,” he declared confidently. “This is Africa.” There were Yoruba shouts from the audience. “I can hear a lot of my people from the western part of Africa here.” Not mentioning Nigeria was deliberate: “Borders are lies to keep us separated. I want to remove the lines drawn by slave traders and colonialists,” he said.

The Kuti home base in Lagos is a nightclub called The Shrine, and the concert had the feel of a religious service. Red, gold and green spotlights poured down like sunlight through stained glass. Music was interspersed with sermonising. “Alalalalala,” called Kuti, and the faithful responded with shouts of “Ororororoo!”

His waxcloth was more like a jester’s motley than a priest’s robes, but he manned his Hammond organ like a pulpit. Afrobeat is a cult of personality or it is nothing, and Kuti has a big enough personality to front it. On “Obasanjo Don Play You Wayo”, he railed without a hint of shame against nepotism in Nigerian public life. In the midst of “Beng Beng Beng”, his dancers vibrating in a way that went beyond the lascivious into the aerobic, he gave graphic instructions on avoiding premature ejaculation, to squeals of appreciation from half the crowd.

But whereas old-school Afrobeat songs unfolded over a leisurely half-hour or so, his reached their climax after five minutes. Apart from a maundering “Inside Religion”, the songs were tight and punchy, the juggernaut rumble of the drums set off by sharp percussive cracks and the powerhouse of the brass section blowing as one.

During “Africa for Africa” came Kuti’s main sermon: “Economic problems in Europe show that corruption isn’t just an African problem . . . In Britain you don’t even know who your president is.”

Then it was back to the music: a run through “Sorry-Sorry-O” and “Action Time”, energy still unflagging even if the dancers had to retreat behind a speaker stack to gulp water. “Africa can excel!” Kuti shouted. “Africa can excel!”


Femi Kuti in Glasgow, Scotland, Pt. II

As Scotland lay under a blanket of snow and the temperature in Glasgow fell below -10, Femi Kuti’s stated aim of turning the Arches into a corner of funky Lagos may have seemed ambitious. When the star of the show joined his 12-piece Positive Force band onstage rubbing his hands it wasn’t initially clear if he was trying to warm himself or was just preparing to get down to business.

“We intend to heat up the place for you this evening”, said the 46-year old son of legendary Afrobeat musician Fela Kuti, who has now carved out an impressive career in his own right. With songs taken mainly from his latest album Africa for Africa as fuel, Kuti and company launched into a two hour set that never failed to entertain.

Ably backed by a five-piece horn section, drums, bass, guitar, percussion and three dancers/backing singers whose gyrations added a visual energy to the layered rhythms, Femi switched between vocals, organ and saxophone and enjoyed the freedom that only a tightly drilled band could afford him.

Beginning with the polyrhythmic funk of Truth Don’t Die, the band had the crowd on side from the word go. Working through the likes of Politics in Africa, Dem Bobo and Bad Government from the new album, each component of the band was given a chance to shine but Femi, front and centre, directed proceedings and kept the collective pulling in the same direction.

Being a member of the Kuti family, it wasn’t just about the music though. Even apart from the African politics that dominate his lyrics, between songs there were impassioned calls for change and declarations that the band was bringing us a “true Africa”. Though encouraging, the crowd looked a little lost when one song was introduced with reference to the day’s events in the Ivory Coast and the polemic occasionally threatened to take away from the sounds.

The part-preacher/part-showman balance tipped in favour of the latter as the night went on and it was clear that Femi enjoyed the chance to spread his wings and play with songs he had already recorded. Sax solos brought a little bit of Ornette Coleman and John Coltrane to the African sound and a little call and response kept the audience involved while they danced.
Coming at the end of a year in which he has been nominated for a Grammy and played the opening ceremony at the World Cup finals, it’s a compliment to the singer that he still looked as if playing to a small crowd on a cold night was a big deal for him.

The encore genuinely felt like a treat and what began simply had layer upon layer added until it exploded into an extended workout that brought an exciting and satisfying end to proceedings.

The gig was one of the first put on by promoters Organised Noise and it was hard not to feel some sympathy for them that the audience wasn’t bigger. The company hopes to bring the “finest live music from every corner of the world to Scotland” and having landed one of the superstars of world music it was a pity that the freezing conditions undoubtedly kept some people away from what was a thrilling evening.



Femi Kuti in New York, United States

Femi Kuti’s band, Positive Force, danced its way onstage at the Fillmore New York at Irving Plaza on Thursday night. Guitarists swayed in unison, horn players strutted, female backup singers shimmied and bumped, and they all moved to Mr. Kuti’s directions — left, right, down to the ground — after he made his entrance. The women kept shaking and swiveling their hips virtually nonstop through the set, to a beat that merges rhythms from Mr. Kuti’s home, Nigeria, with funk, swing and reggae. As they danced, they sang choruses like “Stop AIDS, fight AIDS.” For Mr. Kuti, in a family tradition, dance music carries messages.

The rhythm is Afrobeat, which was forged by Mr. Kuti’s father, Fela Anikulapo Kuti, from the 1970s until his death in 1997 (of complications from AIDS). It is virtually inseparable from protest and a social conscience. In “You Better Ask Yourself,” from Femi Kuti’s most recent album, “Day by Day” (Mercer Street), the lyrics wonder why Africa, with all its natural resources, still has the “majority of the poorest people.” Often, the songs rail against a problem that both Fela and Femi Kuti have condemned: government corruption.

On May 28, as Femi Kuti was preparing for the United States tour that started with Thursday’s concert, the state government announced a permanent shutdown of the club he and a sister built in Lagos, the New Afrika Shrine, citing “noise nuisance, illegal street trading, indiscriminate parking, blocking of access roads and obstruction of traffic.” (It is named after the Shrine, his father’s club from the ’70s and a center of defiance until it was shut down by the government after Fela’s death.) This permanent closing didn’t last; the New Afrika Shrine was allowed to reopen on Tuesday. Onstage, Mr. Kuti spoke about the closing and the reopening, saying that the Nigerian government was not strong enough to send him to prison, as it had his father, or it would have already done so. Then he called for a united Africa.

Mr. Kuti’s Afrobeat moves in ways established by his father. Behind Mr. Kuti’s vocals, it can simmer along, with accents flickering on high-hat cymbal and snare drum amid rippling keyboards and guitar. It can ease back, turning into a subdued midtempo pulse, for guitar and horn solos that approach jazz. And it can switch into brawny funk when the horn section kicks in with choppy, insistent lines anchored by baritone saxophone. Femi Kuti adds variations of his own: passages of vocal counterpoint, undercurrents of a hip-hop beat and, especially on the new album, hints of Caribbean rhythms.

The set was more party than protest. As a bandleader — who sings and plays trumpet, alto saxophone or electric organ in various songs — Mr. Kuti is a master of dynamics. Each song shifted repeatedly between smooth and punchy, triggering a new burst of dancing with every change. But there was no mistaking Mr. Kuti’s didactic mission. Even when he turned to the subject of sex in the set’s finale, “Beng Beng Beng,” he proffered advice and instructions — about not rushing things — as the Afrobeat groove pulsated and surged behind him.


Dec 15, 2010

The Afrobeat Diaries ... by (Pt.XII)

Fela Anikulapo Kuti: Teacher Don't Teach Me Nonsense


Thanx again to Michael Ricci and Chris May!!!

During the latter half of the 1980s, Fela Anikulapo Kuti's international star waned a little, as Congolese rumba and Malian desert blues became the new world music flavors of the moment. And in 2010, even a portion of the Afrobeat audience tends to underestimate Kuti's later work. But 1986's Teacher Don't Teach Me Nonsense, along with albums such as Beasts Of No Nation (Kalakuta, 1989) and Underground System (Kalakuta, 1992), demonstrates that Kuti's genius never left him, and that Egypt 80 was as limber and hard-hitting a band as its predecessor, Afrika 70.

Kuti only infrequently employed outside producers on his albums. Sometimes the results were good: British dub master Dennis Bovell's Live In Amsterdam (Polygram, 1983) and the ex-Cream drummer, Ginger Baker's psychedelia tinged He Miss Road (EMI, 1975). On another occasion it was spectacularly bad: Bill Laswell's extensive remix and overdubbing of Army Arrangement (Celluloid, 1985), done while Kuti was in jail in 1984 on trumped up currency smuggling charges. Listening to it was "worse than being in prison," Kuti said.

Best of them all was Wally Badarou's Teacher Don't Teach Me Nonsense. It adopted a markedly different aesthetic to the one Kuti typically used, and it was a triumph. The album was recorded shortly after Kuti had been released from jail, where he'd served 20 months on the smuggling charges (son Femi had kept Egypt 80 rehearsed during the incarceration).

Badarou's production is richer and more burnished than was the norm for Kuti. Indeed, it's almost orchestral. The sound is smoother, the beat more chilled, and the arrangement denser, with layers of keyboards, a serpentine horn chart, and the backup choir placed well forward in the mix. In the lyric for the title track, Kuti tells the oyinbos (white men) to stop foisting sham versions of democracy on Africa, allowing "democratic" rulers to line their own pockets at the expense of the people, just so long as foreign-owned multi-nationals are permitted to strip the continent of its natural resources for a pittance. This isn't democracy, says Kuti, it's "demo-crazy." Give us back our traditional rulers, he says, they are infinitely preferable.

Ironically—and probably unknown to Kuti at the time this album was recorded—Badarou was during the mid 1980s sometimes engaged as a keyboard player on Laswell's productions (saxophonist Manu Dibango's 1985 Celluloid album, Electric Africa, was outstanding). But Badarou's modus operandi was eons away from Laswell's heavy handed approach. Years later, explaining how to produce Kuti, he said, "You don't. You keep the tape running, you have a second machine standing by, you make him feel comfortable, and you are wholly transparent throughout the process. Fela knew very little of me—I can't recall ever being formally introduced—and I clearly felt his reluctance to the having a 'producer' on board....But Fela loved the sound." Indeed, Kuti told Badarou, "You know how to mix my music, man"—a real compliment from an artist who always knew exactly how he wanted his music to be presented on disc.

Kuti and Badarou recorded three tracks during the sessions: "Look And Laugh" was included on later editions of Teacher Don't Teach Me Nonsense; "Just Like That" was included on Beasts Of No Nation. Both tracks are included on this Wrasse release.


Dec 9, 2010

Chicago Afrobeat Project continues in spirit of Fela Kuti

Chicago Afrobeat Project continues in spirit of Fela Kuti

Chicago Afrobeat Project’s performance at The Urban Lounge on Nov. 1 comes at a bright time for Afrobeat music in the United States.

The critically claimed Broadway musical “FELA!” (co-produced by Jay-Z and Will Smith) is in the midst of plans for a national tour, while impressive young bands such as Vampire Weekend and The Budos Band are spreading the joy of Afrobeat to the masses.

“I think it may be moving toward its peak,” said Kevin Ford, keyboardist, producer and founder of Chicago Afrobeat Project, which began in 2002.

“Afrobeat is getting more recognition,” agreed Angelo Garcia, tenor saxophone player of the ensemble. “It could be as popular as hip-hop.”

The proposition that Afrobeat — hard-driving African polyrhythms blended with Western concepts such as spiky guitar licks, muscular bass lines and jazz improvisation — could rival hip-hop for American prominence anytime soon is unlikely.

But there’s no mistaking that the danceable, energetic and combustible sound is ready to accept new converts in Utah.

The collective has toured the Beehive State before, but not since the group added its first permanent vocalist, Squair Blaq. Blaq joined the group about nine months ago, and is featured on Chicago Afrobeat Project’s upcoming album, “Nyash Up,” a collection of covers that further traces the connection between African and Western music.

Ford and Garcia said the addition of an emcee wasn’t necessarily a bow to become more commercial, but rather a way for the instrumental band to better inhabit the spirit of Fela Kuti. He’s the Nigerian singer and bandleader who pioneered Afrobeat in the 1970s before his death in 1997 at age 58.

“We’ve always wanted to do it,” said Davis of adding a singer on top of occasional chants that are part of the group’s sound. “We could never find the right person.”

“We’ve been selective,” Ford said. “We had a mish-mosh of auditions [over the years], and we hadn’t pursued it aggressively.”

But when group members approached Blaq and asked him to audition, they knew they had their musician.

“We had our identity, but we hadn’t had anyone to deliver it,” Ford said. “It was good to have someone who could connect.”

Besides having a frontman who could break down the wall of instrumental music, with Blaq the band was able to convey its political point of view. Kuti was known as a political maverick, and calls for change were just as important as percussion in his brand of Afrobeat.

The band’s liberal viewpoint had come across in songs such as “March of the Uninsured”( which proclaims a chant of “You can’t go to the doctor because you’re uninsured”), but with Blaq the band believes it’s continuing the mission of Kuti. “Our shows are better with [Blaq],” Ford said.

The elevated status of Kuti has shown up in Chicago, with the June 2009 opening of The Shrine, a nightclub in Chicago’s South Loop. The venue takes its name from the personal nightclub of Kuti, which was destroyed in raids from Nigerian soldiers in response to Kuti’s human-rights activism. “I’ve got this feeling that there will be an Afrobeat scene in Chicago,” Ford said.

A large, thriving Afrobeat scene in mostly white-bread Utah is unlikely, but Chicago Afrobeat Project hopes to ignite a desire for more multicultural music throughout its tour.

Source: David Burger, The Salt Lake Tribune, October 2010

Fela And The Pan Africanism Dream

Fela And The Pan Africanism Dream

LATE music icon and Afrobeat legend, Fela Anikulapo-Kuti literally resurrected last week in Lagos as scholars, culture administrators, activists, music enthusiasts among others, ex-rayed his contributions to Pan-Africanism and the enthronement of democracy and good governance in Nigeria and in Africa.

Fela has been described as a committed proponent of the Pan Africanism who used his music to promote African integration and fight against neocolonialism and injustice. The event was a lecture organised by the Faculty of Arts, University of Lagos (UNILAG) in collaboration with Centre for Black and African Art and Civilisation (CBAAC) and Cassava Republic, and held at the Faculty of Arts Boardroom, UNILAG on Wednesday October 13.

The lecture which was on the theme Fela Kuti and the Re-Shaping of the Pan-African Dream was delivered by Carlos Moore. The lecture brought together scholars, culture administrators, the media and others. Dean of the Faculty of Arts, UNILAG, Professor Duro Oni, Director General of CBAAC, Professor Tunde Babawale, the guest lecturer, Moore and his wife, Dr. Bibi Bakare of Cassava Republic, several scholars, were at the event.

Moore, a renowned scholar, activist, an honorary Research Fellow in the School for Graduate Studies and Research of the University of West Indies, (UWI), Kingston, Jamaica, and author Fela’s biography titled, Fela: This Bitch of a Life, in his lecture described Fela as an anthropologist, a linguist, a voracious reader and an extremely cultured person. According to the lecturer, Fela was interested in African.

“Fela re-elaborated, revisited the Pan-Africanism dream. His dream was for a United States of Africa. His love for the common man was so profound. Fela was an extremely cultured person. Behind the chaotic image, he was an extremely disciplined man. For him, independence does not mean decolonisation; independence was an indirect rule by another name. What we have in Africa is not a nation State, but a nation prison,” he said.

Moore who will also be visiting Ghana and South Africa on a promotional tour of the book and to give the yearly Felabration lecture, also disclosed that because of Fela’s criticism of the government due to their bad policies, he was hated by them. He narrated this and Fela’s experiences in the 70s during FESTAC.

“Fela’s assassination was being asked for. I don’t want to mention names. He was in an environment of terrorism. It was terrific. Because he was denouncing FESTAC and quoting figures being spent, detectives were everywhere trailing him. He was a voracious reader and committed to standard. He worked on his music eight to 10 hours a day. What Fela said in the lyrics of his songs, and his yabis, define his vision for Africa.”

According to him, Fela was committed to the reconstruction of the dreams of the Pan-Africanists – Edward Wilmot Blyden, W. E. B. Du Bois who hosted the highly influential fifth Pan-African Conference in Manchester, UK, Marcus Garvey, and others.

The erudite scholar and renowned activist whose biography Fela: This Bitch of a Life, kicked against Nigeria’s reliance on oil for her economy. “Exporting your natural resources is suicide. Oil will be over in the next 40 or 50 years. For 50 years we have not been able to define our existence,” he posited.

Earlier, Babawale in his remark described Fela as very unique individual. “We know that in every record that he released there is always information, and activism for the unification of the continent. Fela was against imperialism. He was against few people amassing wealth; he was pro-people and anti imperialist,” he said.

The need for the use of indigenous languages in schools was also brought to the fore. Moore called for the protection and promotion of African indigenous languages, adding that Fela promoted pidgin and his language Yoruba. He noted that other countries have adapted their languages into their school curriculum.

In the book, Fela: This Bitch of a Life, Moore chronicles the life of the Afrobeat legend, Fela, his triumphs and travails, and his dreams and vision for a united Africa. It has been described as a “moving journey into the soul of a brave Pan-Africanist who confronted multiple forces of oppression with the forces of impeccable music”.

Source: Nigerian Music Movement

How Fela Music Redefined Pan Africanism

Renowned writer and civil rights activist, Carlos Moore, has given a fresh insight into the concept of Pan-Africanism. The respected Cuban scholar at a recent public lecture on reshaping pan Africanism organized by CBAAC at the University of Lagos explained how music raised advocacy for Pan-Africanism.

In a lecture entitled: What is Africa to Me, Moore broadened the concept of Pan-Africanism, using the late Afrobeat legend, Fela Anikulpo-Kuti as the springboard of Pan-Africanism through his radical critique of Africa’s socio-political challenges.

Starting on a note of sourcing for the true meaning of Africa, Moore revealed his encounter with Fela when he had asked him the same question and he (Fela) had replied that his music answers the question. Moore therefore, quoted Fela’s reply: ‘‘Man, that’s what my music is all about. About Africa. About my love for Africa.

About how Africa was messed up by the Arabs and the Europeans before, and about how our rulers today continue to mess up Africa.’’ Noting specifically that Fela had given two perspectives to the understanding of Pan-Africanism, vis –a-vis Africa’s socio-political challenges, Moore said : ‘So, the essence of what Africa was to Fela, and what he felt that Africa should become, is indeed contained in that séminal book, This Bitch of a Life, together with all of his musical compositions.’

Addressing the topic from the standpoints of colonial legacy and political elite, Moore gave a complete view of Fela’s intimate thoughts and feelings. He drew copious references from Fela’s music to expatiate on these standpoints. And his biography on Fela, entitled This bitch of a life readily became a reference point in this regard.

Blaming Africa’s backwardness on over reliance on Western ways, Moore cited the examples of Fela’s songs such as Teacher, Don’t teach me nonsense, I no be gentleman, among others, to drive home his point. His words, ‘‘Independence did not mean decolonization to Fela. To the contrary, it meant to him a modern version of ‘Indirect Rule’. In Colonial Mentality , Gentleman, Lady and Teacher, Don’t Teach Me Nonsense, Fela chronicles how the so-called post-colonial Africa is a prostrate continent that apes the very world that conquered it.

It is a Christian and Muslim dominated Africa ruled by the préjudices of the Middle Eastern Arabs, through their religion, Islam, and the préjudices of the Western Europeans, through their Judeo-Christian religions and mores. Africa had lost her own way and therefore her authenticity. The ruling élite, therefore, are not capable of directing the peoples over whom they ruled in the direction of a true African self-emancipation.

As a result, African men were obssessed with becoming Europeans and Arabs, and African women were obssessed with redefining themselves in Eurocentric terms, even to the point of doing violence to the colour of their skins, their facial features, the texture of their haïr and their very idea of womanhood.

However, Moore restated Fela’s critique of the evils committed by the ruling elite of Africa, describing them as being constantly responsible for Africa’s woes. His words, ‘‘Africa was being ruled not by the peoples, but by comprador classes whose interests were contrary to the interests of the people and the nation as a whole. He made no distinction between Marxist and non-Marxist leaderships ; both were a reflection of and subservient to interests that were external.

Their rôle was to deliver the natural riches contained in the underground of African countries to the dominant industrial and military centers of the world. That was how thèse élites earned their living and sustained their lavish lifestyles : through the kick backs derived from such a wholesale delivery of the continent ‘s natural resources.’’

And while proffering an elixir to the problems of Africans, Moore made a strong case for a continental space of Africa that would be called United States of Africa with a special consideration for the dynamics of her diverse cultural heritage of which indigenous languages are paramount.

Source: Nigerian Music Movement