International Thief Thief (1980)

by Fela Kuti

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1.

about

At the time of its release, the name of this album (and the eponymous title track) would have been recognized by any Nigerian as the acronym for “International Telephone and Telegraph”, Nigeria’s biggest telecommunications conglomerate. In this case, however, Fela satirically used the acronym to mean “International Thief-Thief.” The song is a 24-minute direct attack on multinational’s CEO, Moshood Abiola, who also happened to own Decca, the label Fela was signed to at the time, and with whom Fela was in full battle mode based on the label’s refusal to release his albums. Fela takes this opportunity to publicly disgrace Abiola for, in Fela’s eyes, becoming a stooge for the white man through his general colonial mentality, and specifically for his collusion in the CIA-led effort to dislocate Chile’s democratically elected Marxist president Allende. The lyrics also include a pointed history lesson outlining the way, in the days of slavery, the white man would find a willing African who would sell his own people into slavery.

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released January 18, 2011

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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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