Excuse​-​O (1975)

by Fela Kuti

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about

Excuse O is about natural human reactions to situations we confront in our daily endeavors. If you walk into a bar, ask and pay for a drink and you happen to recognize a friend in the bar, you take time off your table to chat with this friend. While you are at it, another man walks over to your table and drinks your glass of beer, of course you turn round and find him drinking your beer, your reaction will be: ‘Excuse O!’. Same for the person who goes to withdraw five Naira (equivalent of US $5 at that time) from his bank, takes public transport, in the bus the person finds another man trying to pick his pocket, the obvious reaction is: ‘Excuse O!’. For the man who dates a woman for the first time, the situation is even more serious. Particularly since, on their date, he takes the woman to a swimming pool after which they have lunch, from lunch to cinema, from cinema to dinner. After dinner, the man again invites her to have a dance at the Shrine (Fela’s Club). Sitting at a table, after ordering drinks, another man comes to excuse his partner for a dance, he does not object to the first, the second he consents to grudgingly. A third dance? That is enough Mr! Excuse O! will be the reaction from the man.

Mr. Grammarticalogylisationalism is the Boss: This is another of Fela’s songs critical of the education system in Africa—which he calls a poor imitation of the Western education system. The man who speaks better English gets paid more. Fela sings: ‘…the better oyinbo you talk! The more bread you get!’. School certificate education is rated: ‘…grade four bread!’ Bachelor Of Arts(BA): ‘…grade three bread!’, Master Of Science(MSe): ‘…grade two bread!’, and Doctor Of Science (PhD): ‘…grade one bread!’. This is how we are oriented towards Western values. First thing we are given in the morning? News Papers! The brainwash starts from the ‘Big’ English words used in the News Papers…the oyinbo (English) wey dey inside!, na riddle for labourer man! Inside the paper! Jargonism dey!(meaning there is a lot of jargon). Irrelevant issue that has no bearing towards alleviating the sufferings of the poor man on the street. Then the leaders blame the poor man’s problems on “ignorance” and “delinquency”. Fela asks: ‘…who be delinquent? Na them delinquent! Who be delinquent? The oyinbo talker delinquent…! Meaning who is delinquent? The Mr. English Speaker is the one who is delinquent. Referring to the leadership ruling most African countries.

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released May 11, 2010

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Fela Kuti Lagos, Nigeria

Over a decade after his death, vindication has come to Fela Kuti, Africa’s musical genius. AfroBeat, his gift to the world, is now an international staple on his own uncompromising terms, social content intact.

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