We Are The Men of Soul

fela-anikulapo-kuti
Fela Kuti (1938 – 1997)

“A radical is he who has no sense…fights without reason…I have a reason. I am authentic. Yes, that’s what I am”

Fela Kuti

Beware, Soul Brother

by Chinua Achebe

We are the men of soul
men of song we measure out
our joys and agonies
in paces of the dance.
Beware, soul brother, beware,
for others there will be
lying in waiting, leaden-footed, tone deaf,
passionate to despoil the devour.
Take care then, mother’s son, take care
hanging a lame foot in air like the hen
in a strange unfamiliar compound.
Protect this patrimony to which
you must return when the song is finished
and the dancers disperse;
Remember also your children
for they in their time will want a
place for their feet when they come of age
and the dance of the future is born for them.

 


The concept of artist transforming society is most visible among rock stars.  But when those artists change the way we think there is something profound that goes beyond their music.  Bob Dylan never wanted to take credit that his music had a message.  Fela Kuti did.  Kuti didn’t pull any punches in regard to what he was singing and why.  Kuti wanted to bring down the corruption endemic in politics in post colonial Africa and move Africa forward.  So did Achebe.  Poetry and music is most powerful when it moves beyond the words to a regenerative truth. When it strives to create a new understanding, even an imperfect understanding of ways to improve our world.

Tony Allen was the rhythm that drove Fela Kuti’s sound for decades. Allen died in April at age 79.  If you don’t recognize the name, you should recognize the beat, because it has been imitated by drummers in jazz and rock and roll for the past 50 years. Allen created the Afro beat and was the coolest jazz drummer of our generation.  No one played a lick like Allen. His timing, his rhythm is sheer poetry, sheer jazz.  I have shared a few links below.  Enjoy.

 

 

 


Beasts of No Nation

by Fela Kuti

Ah- Let’s get now into another, underground spiritual game
Just go to help me the answer, go to say, “Aiya-kata”- Oh ya
O’feshe-Lu
AIYA-KATA *(after each line)
O’feshe- g’Ba
O’feshe-Woh

AIYA-KATA *(after each line)

O’feshe-Weng
Aiya kata
Aiya Koto
Aiya Kiti
Aiya Kutu
O’feshe-Lu
AIYA-KATA *(after each line)
O’feshe- g’Ba
Oh—–…
Basket mouth wan start to leak again, oh-
BASKET MOUTH WAN OPEN MOUTH AGAIN, OH
Abi** you don forget I say I sing, ee-oh **(is it not)
BASKET MOUTH WAN OPEN MOUTH AGAIN, OH
Oh, I sing, I say, I go my mouth like basket, ee-oh, Malan Bia-gbe-re
(2x)
Basket mouth wan start to leak again, oh-
BASKET MOUTH WAN OPEN MOUTH AGAIN, OH
Fela, wetin you go sing about?
DEM GO WORRY ME… *(after each line)
(3x)
Dem go worry me, worry me– worry, worry, worry, worry
DEM GO WORRY ME *(After each line)
Dey wan to make us sing about prison
Dem go worry me, worry me– worry, worry all over da town
Dey wan to know about prison life
Dem go worry me, worry me– worry, worry all over da town
*(repeat stanza)
Fela, wetin you go sing about?
DEM GO WORRY ME
Dem go worry me, worry me– worry, worry, worry, worry
The time weh I dey, for prison, I call am “inside world”
The time weh I dey outside prison, I call am “outside world”
Na craze world, na be outside world
CRAZE** WORLD *(after each line) / **(crazy)
Na be outside- da police-i dey
Na be outside- da soldier dey
Na be outside- da court dem dey
Na be outside- da magistrate dey
Na be outside- da judge dem dey
Na craze world be dat
Na be outside- Buhari dey
Na craze man be dat
Animal in craze-man skin-i
Na craze world be dat
Na be outside- Idia-gbon dey
Na craze man be dat- oh
Animal in craze-man skin-i
Na craze world be dat
Na be outside- dem find me guilty
Na be outside- dem jail me five years
——————I no do nothing
Na be outside-dem judge dey beg ee-o
Na craze world be dat, Na craze world be dat
Na be outside- dem kill dem students
Soweto, Zaria, and Ife
Na craze world be dat, ee-oh
Na craze world be dat
Na be outside- all dis dey happen
Na craze world be dat, ee-oh
Na craze world be dat, ee-oh
Na craze world be dat, ee-oh
Na craze world be dat, ee-oh
Na craze world be dat, ee-oh…
Make you hear this one
War against indiscipline, ee-oh
Na Nigerian government, ee-oh
Dem dey talk ee-oh
“My people are us-e-less, My people are sens-i-less, My people are indiscipline”
Na Nigerian government, ee-oh
Dem dey talk be dat
“My people are us-e-less, My people are sens-i-less, My people are indiscipline”
I never hear dat before- oh
Make Government talk, ee-oh
“My people are us-e-less, My people are sens-i-less, My people are indiscipline”
Na Nigerian government, ee-oh
Dem dey talk be dat
Which kind talk be dat- oh?
Craze talk be dat ee-oh
Na animal talk be dat

 

Published by

A Sonnet Obsession

I am a life-long Minnesotan who resides in Minneapolis. I hope you enjoy my curated selection of sonnets, short poems and nerdy ruminations.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s