Revisiting Fela: A Millenial’s Experience.

Oluwafemi Ojosu
3 min readJul 29, 2021

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The Muslim holidays are over, and I’m back at work, doing my 9–5. I’m trying to centre my mind to commence the day’s work, but I keep losing focus, and it seems like I’m fighting a losing battle as to having a productive work day. Frustrated and almost losing it, I’m reminded of what the Good Doctor once prescribed as a Panacea for all ills… Music.

Following the Good Doctor’s prescription, I launch my Deezer app, and after minutes of merry-go-rounding, I settle on a Playlist of Fela’s discography created by Tayo Aliu I favourited about a year ago, I crack my knuckles, and I finally set down to work.

Some few hours later, all thoughts of work have been forgotten as I’m now deeply engrossed in Fela. From catching J. Cole’s sample of Gentleman on Let Nas Down, to Greo’s sample of Trouble Sleep, Yanga Wake am on Wá Gunu, I am in for an absolute delight.

Now, the older generation has told us a lot about Fela, but I don’t think they have done a good job of it as my generation neither fully understands or truly appreciates Fela’s Artistry. God! FELA. IS. THE. GOAT! A true Abàmì Eda in the Fagunwa sense of the word, I can still hear him crooning on Expensive Shit thus “ Dem go use your shit to put you for jail, dem don turn my shit to expensive shit, my shit na exhibit, it must not loss ó… eee Alagbon ó…” Or was it when he kept on refraining “ Beast of no nation egbekegbe…” on Beast of no Nation? My guy, I wan mental!

Yes yes, I know at this moment, y’all be like: ‘Why is he gushing?’ ‘Has he never listened to Fela before?’ ‘Kini rada rada gan?’ And you would be justified in your queries and dismissal. But stay with me a little longer.

Yes I have listened to Fela prior, but in bits and snatches, never as an entire, cohesive body of work. I mean, this breadth, this range, this discography!? It’s like giving a kid candy for the first time! And yes, I’m Uber excited about what I have found; but I digress.

The first time I attempted listening to Fela, I was at the Law School. I gave up. In all honesty and in the spirit of full disclosure, I was just fed up with the incessant instrumentals, and abandoned it like: ‘is this you people’s Fela?’ ‘What exactly is it are you all raving on?’ ‘Like can he just get to the singing part already??’ Knowing what I know now, I admit I was hasty and uncultured, for this time, it was like I had new ears, the ‘excessive’ instrumentals I once disdained was now revealed to me to be the true music, the artistry and the genius that is Fela, abàmì eda, anikulapo fún rárá ẹ!

Excitement aside, Fela’s music, his artistry, his struggle against government’s high handedness, and his message for societal change are the elements that have earned and cemented him his GOAT status. Unfortunately, the issues he spoke about with his music are still rife in our society today, flowering and flourishing like Show Dem Camp expressed on their latest installment in the Clone Wars series — The Algorhythm.

Again, I’ve veered off point. I’ve allowed Nigeria’s doom and gloom spoil my Afrobeat and rhythm now. Anyways, ẹyin ẹ̀yán mi, this, is a celebration of Fela’s artistry by a member of a generation just truly discovering him. It should be a thesis, but for now, e ba mi manage tribute yii.

Till I come your way again, Shalom.

Originally published at http://femiojosuwrites.wordpress.com on July 29, 2021.

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