Fela, My Fela

I hated Fela’s music as a child, maybe hate isn’t the right word. I think it was annoyance and irritation, a strong irritation at how long the instrumental bit ran before I could hear my Fela’s voice. You see, I loved Fela.


Fela wore red pants and smoked the thick rolled bundles I would come to know as igbo, at the time I just thought they were cigarettes for the coolest people. And Fela, my Fela, was the coolest person alive and I was going to be him when I grew up- smoking cool joints, singing Water No Get Enemy and giving interviews cross-legged in my red pants. I was four and had no idea I would grow into a woman.


This afternoon, I jumped into a coaster bus to Ojuelegba and was pleasantly surprised to find jazz cooing from the surprisingly strong sounding speakers. The bus was decrepit with the seats looking as if they had survived the two world wars, the Nigerian civil war and all the other wars in sub-Saharan Africa since 19kiridim. So, I love Jazz, and I’m bopping my head to this very earthy jazz but I hear an undercurrent, a very familiar ripple, and I start smiling.


How could I not have recognised Shakara?! Fela, my Fela (that was how I referred to him for years) would have been ashamed of me. As the bus lurched through the potholes that have become the portion of Surulere since our Fashola left office, I realised that a road trip through the South-West with Fela’s music blaring from the speakers of the car, would be perfect (let’s see if He will agree). If we get to do it, I’d probably record a portion of the trip and make a short film with other elements that are buzzing in my head as I type, I hope I don’t forget this- well I trust Abiodun and EyeKay to remind me.


So, I’m writing this in my friend’s office, streaming Water No Get Enemy (my favourite of all his songs) on Youtube and laying the plot of a romantic short story centered around the African Shrine at Empire (the old one, and I dare say- the authentic one) and I think this moment and this place is what happiness looks like.





  1. Water no get enemy was my fav too.
    I enjoyed fela’s songs for the instrumentals( I have a thing for instrumentals). I also liked how basic his songs were- they weren’t showing off vocal dexterity but talking about life and nigerian issues.


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