A couple of days ago, I watched a documentary on “Fela Kuti: the Father of Afrobeat” on BBC2, and it was very inspiring. I felt so emotional because of the roles Fela played in helping to emancipate humanity from mental slavery, and how he fought the corrupt system to the detriment of his own life and that of his entire family; he made himself vulnerable to the draconian governments of his time and was ready to become the sacrifice for his people. Unfortunately, most of the people he fought for never saw the light, and till date, haven’t seen it.
I am one person who has continuously believed that the Afrobeat creator and legend was a prophet because all he wrote and said in his lyrics are even far more relevant today. Police brutality, dictatorship, massive corruption in the polity surpass unimaginable boundaries, exceeding what made Fela gasp for breath, but still, up till now, many who profess to idolise him haven’t settled for his ideologies – they love his music, eulogise him, while at the same time, not paying close attention to his philosophy – his true philosophy was living and leading with integrity (free of corruption and dictatorship).
When in 1979, the Nigeria Army invaded his home, threw his mother from the top of the building, beat him and his band members to stupor, and almost killed him, his expectation was that the about sixty thousand people that stood and watched would come to his rescue – at least, cast a stone at the soldiers, but he was wrong – those he fought for never saw what he saw. They were slaves who thought they were free men. So when the Nigerian youth recently took to the street to protest against police brutality, I wasn’t surprised that some they fought for came criticising them, because in every generation, we have slaves who think they’re free men.
Fela has come and gone. He has fought his fight and left us with his music, his undying lyrics and beats. I’m glad that the youth have embraced Afrobeat, and its gone global, and I was excited when in the last Grammy Awards, Burna Boy was nominated. I’m exhilarated that the world has embraced Afrobeat and are stimulated by it, which reminds me of an encounter I had at work one day. I was singing “Time after time” by Cyndi Lauper, and a young Somalian lady said to me, “People don’t sing these songs these days. You’re old school.” Out of curiosity, I asked, “So what do people sing?” She said, “Afrobeat!” I was thrilled.
Same night I watched Fela’s documentary, coincidentally, my wife changed the station to Channel 5, and they were airing Whitney Houston’s documentary. My joy turned to sadness. Whitney’s addiction to drugs and how it led to her untimely death majored on the documentary. Just like Fela, her life was x-rayed.
When we are gone, the ones that be will x-ray us – they will dig us up from the grounds and use their knowledge to examine us. We won’t be there to explain ourselves – we will be nothing but dust.
All our egos will be vapours – they will fly into incalculable distances, far into the unreachable sky. Our money will not be there to influence their perception of us. Our houses we bought, so expensive, will be rubbles with no value, mere archaeological. We will be naked before the children unborn when they study us and how we lied or told the truth to the world. I am forlorn, worried. When my history is written by those so far away from now, what went on backstage will be the title of the new page.
While you bark like a wild dog. While you beat your chest because you own today. While you twist. While you’re never at fault and your picture always right. Known; you won’t be there tomorrow, only carcass.
In Tracy Chapman’s Unsung Psalms, she wrote, “Some would call me a cheat, call me a liar.
Say that I’ve been defeated by the basest desires. Yes I have strayed and succumbed to my vices. But I tried to live right.”
Do your best to live right, completely away from greed and selfishness.
I’m not perfect, so I look at the mirrors to address that image, me alone, standing true to myself, and acknowledging my own weaknesses. I look straight into the eyes of the man I see in that mirror, and I tell him the truth, how he’s deviating from decorum.
I wake up in the dead of the night. I stand to stare at my image. I stare at my recklessness. I stare at the consequences. I rescind. I question. I sigh. And I sleep again. Yet I slip. I pick myself up again. I go. It’s my journey, I remind myself daily. One day, I’ll jade and fade, never to return to this phase. So I care how I trade and respond to those who bid.
I’ll leave it here!