Archive for Gentleman

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