Radio Shrine! Gan! Gan!
Coffin for Head of State Commemoration -
September 30th 1979 – September 30th 2014!
“Meanwhile; Fela on his return back to Nigeria after the trip to Germany where he performed at the 1978 Berlin Jazz Festival, accompanied by members of his organisation and the Young African Pioneers, we visited the site of the dispersed Kalakuta commune and realised that General Obasanjo’s military regime had seized the opportunity of our absence from the country, to forcibly evacuate the inhabitants of the area breaking down their homes and what was left of the Kuti family house. A population of more than five thousand people was forced to evacuate their homes without alternative provisions or compensation.
The reader will recall that shortly after Obasanjo’s army regime burnt down Kalakuta in 1977 as a sign of protest, Fela and members of the Young African Pioneers placed a coffin (not his mother’s) on the balcony of the ruins of Kalakuta Republic with a banner stating: “This Is The Spot Where Justice Was Murdered”. People walking or driving-pass the ruins, saw this symbolic protest as a defiance of the military regime and on our return to Lagos from Berlin, we found the coffin placed on the debris of the demolished buildings.
Photo of the famous Coffin for Head of State defiantly displayed on the ruins of Kalakuta – Photo by Femi Bankole Osunla for Africa 70 Photo Agency
Asked by members of the press present, what he intended to do with the coffin? Fela replied: “on or before 1st October 1979, we will deposit this coffin at the state house Doddan Barracks as a parting gift to the Obasanjo regime whom we hold responsible for this barbaric act”. Keeping this promise precisely one year after on September 30, 1979, accompanied by members of his organisation, the Young African pioneers, and the public whom he described as Movement of the People (MOP) in the song Coffin for Head of State, we deposited the coffin despite security put in place all along the route to prevent us from getting to the seat of power.
On the eve, Fela and members of his organisation had performed in the Shrine till the early hours of the morning, we all were just going to bed at about six a.m. when the security men were taking positions all over the route that led to Lagos Island where Doddan Barracks is located….”
Picture above front row left, (ID and right J.K. with plastered eye) and all arrested persons, stepping out of the famous police truck named Black Maria. Photo by Femi Bankole Osunla, was used in the album design of Coffin For Head of State.
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