Archive for April, 2008

I be Africa Man Original!

Posted in Felasophy with tags , on April 22, 2008 by Naijaman

Fela, the true Africa Man, challenges those of us who are so quick to adopt a “Colonial Mentality” and warns us about the dangers of not staying true to our African culture and mannerisms. He uses the most obvious adoption of western clothing despite its unsuitability to the tropical African weather as the basis for this song. This assimilation clearly extends beyond the clothing and is addressed over and over again in several other Fela songs.

While there is nothing wrong with adopting the western culture, I think the key is in how we adapt these elements to our everyday lives while staying true to our Africanism. One can argue that Fela started off playing Jazz with western musical instruments however; he demonstrated his ability to make it work for him when he gave the world Afrobeat.

The irony of all this is that Afrobeat (in particular) seems to have been more widely adopted by non Africans! I recall the very first time I saw Antibalas perform in Brooklyn (sometime in 2000), I was shocked to see that the only other black person at the venue apart from my boy and I was Amayo, the token lead singer. I haven’t been to an Antibalas show in a while but judging from the Jump ‘n Funk crowd that used to show up at SOB’s before they shut it down, things might be different these days. I’ll certainly check it out and let y’all know!

I leave you with these words from “I no be Gentleman”:

Africa hot, I like am so… I know what to wear but my friends don’t know.

E put im socks, e put im shoe, e put im pant, e put im singlet, e put im trouser, e put im shirt, e put im tie, e put im coat, e come cover all with him hat!

E be gentle man… E go sweat all over. E go faint right down. E go smell like sh*t. E go piss for body, e no go know.

I no be gentleman like that!

Full Lyrics below: Continue reading

When you kill us, we will rule.

Posted in Felasophy on April 11, 2008 by Naijaman

by Femi Sanyaolu (Keziah Jones).

(Chimurenga) I had planned to visit the Shrine1 the night I arrived in Lagos but never made it. My sister Dupe, who knew some of the band Egypt 80, then took me to the Kalakuta Republic2. But each time we got there, every day for a week, we were told Fela is sleeping. On the fifth day, Sunday June 11, 1996, we decided to wait. We waited six hours. By that time he had stopped giving conventional interviews and was not talking with journalists. I sensed someone who truly loved himself and all peoples, but who has been persecuted for speaking truth, by the very same people it was designed to uplift. In the middle of our conversation there was an electricity failure and the second half of our talk took place in the dark. In Yoruba cosmology, some things happen outside of the logic of time and space. This felt like one of those moments. When I left he came out to greet me from his balcony—an unusually polite gesture from the Chief. It’s under that very balcony that over a million people gathered, around a year later, to wish a safe passage to the Black President.

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