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Ikoyi Blindness (1975)

by Fela Kuti

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Fela’s definition of mental blindness is a person who, with his eyes wide-open, misses his direction and keeps turning round in circles without ever getting to his destination. Ikoyi Blindness refers to the Nigerian elite class who choose wrong professions because it provides them status in society rather than job satisfaction. Not only are they in the wrong professions, they are also blind to the sufferings of their fellow countrymen who live in ghettos like: Mushin, Ajegunle, Somolu, Maroko and even Kalakuta. Pointing to the example of a lawyer; who instead of buying law books, chooses hammer as his trade tool, or a musician who chooses spanner as his trade tool. Fela says there is still some hope for such men, if they could channel their way of thinking towards their environment. ‘…them miss road! Them find road again oh!’. Those social-climbers who see the status quo and stepping into the shoes of former colonial administrators as a sign of moving up in society. They are forgetting that the majority of their folks are still struggling in the ghettos. Such people must realize that they are worse off than a blind person living next to a river. They are going to fall: “shallow” into more ‘Ikoyi mental’ Blindness.

Gba Mi Leti Ki N’Dolowo (Slap Me Make I Get Money): 1974 was a turning point for the judicial system to live up to its sworn goal of upholding the law. Particularly, in a country where the rich constantly took advantage of the poor with impunity. A series of lawsuits involving people from the lower echelons of society, against high society and influential men, resulted in the rich paying high fees as damage to their poor accusers. Fela sang about the issue making the point that you cannot take advantage of anyone and get away with it. If you slap me, I will get money. For as long as I respect myself, I won’t go beyond my bounds — if you slap me you will pay.

- Mabinuori Kayode Idowu


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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