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80. Fela Kuti “Zombie”

80. Fela Kuti “Zombie”

Remember when I pointed out that Zombies have become our one stop shop for metaphors to describe social ills? Well, musician Fela Kuti could have written a book on this. His 1977 album Zombie is described as follows,

“a scathing attack on Nigerian soldiers using the zombie metaphor to describe the methods of the Nigerian military. The album was a smash hit with the people and infuriated the government, setting off a vicious attack against the Kalakuta Republic, during which one thousand soldiers attacked the commune. Fela was severely beaten, and his elderly mother was thrown from a window, causing fatal injuries.”

The Kalakuta Republic was burned, and Fela’s studio, instruments, and master tapes were destroyed. Fela claimed that he would have been killed if it were not for the intervention of a commanding officer as he was being beaten. Fela’s response to the attack was to deliver his mother’s coffin to the main army barrack in Lagos and write two songs, ‘Coffin for Head of State’ and ‘Unknown Soldier,’ referencing the official inquiry that claimed the commune had been destroyed by an unknown soldier.

Take a listen to the song and keep those headphones on because we have one more musician coming up next segment.

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