Magazine article New Internationalist

Zombie by Fela Kuti and Afrika 70

Magazine article New Internationalist

Zombie by Fela Kuti and Afrika 70

Article excerpt

Whenever the `moral majority' gets itself in a lather about anti-authoritarian pop stars, maybe they should just thank their lucky stars that they don't have someone of the order of Fela Kuti on their tails. Simply, Fela Kuti (who died in 1997) still makes the Sex Pistols or Marilyn Manson look like teletubbies. The difference is Fela Kuti really did want to smash the system; `the system', one upon which he focused a whole career and some 80 albums, being the misrule of his Africa.

A Yoruba Nigerian who studied classical music but fell in love with jazz in London, Kuti was aware that the problems of Africa lay as much in a colonial legacy as in a profound level of corruption and mismanagement by the newly independent states. Returning to Lagos in 1963, his music was fed by a burgeoning political awareness - pan-Africanism led to what Kuti would term afro-beat. He fused this politics with a music that sensuously manipulated and spliced high-life sounds with improvised, flying sax solos and incendiary vocals. …

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