Noise For Vendor Mouth (1975)

by Fela Kuti

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The Nigerian establishment labelled Kalakuta Republic inhabitants as — ‘hooligans’, ‘hemp smokers’, etc. Noise For Vendor Mouth is Fela’s indifference to that name calling because, for him, people in Kalakuta are really a bunch of hard working citizens, trying to survive in a society riddled with corruption and mismanagement. He adds that the real hooligans are those in authority who resort to political gangsterism, and sometimes military coups in order to resolve constitutional issues. He considers their criticisms as nothing but the noise made by street vendors to sell their wares.

Mattress: Fela has been accused by critics of not being concerned about the issue of feminism and unequal status of the sexes thus keeping in line with several traditions which they claim he arbitrarily upholds. Several issues, from the African point of view, are counterpoise to Western modern look. Take polygamy, Fela has been criticized for openly endorsing polygamy. How could a man who campaigns against the unequal status of sexes and racism, endorse a male domination. Fela’s justification for polygamy, apart from the traditional repopulation from slavery of Africa’s society, is the polygamous nature of man. Man is polygamous by nature. In Christian societies, where polygamy is not tolerated, men marry officially with one woman but keep mistresses. African men are more honest in their approach—keeping all the women in the know and under one roof in the spirit of family. Songs like Mattress may not help change Fela’s ‘macho’ image, but he is just making comparisons. ‘…mattress! Anything wey we dey sleep on top! Call am for me! Mattress…’. ‘e be mat! E be spring! E be bed! E be cushion! Mattress! Mattress!’.

- 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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