To the unsuspecting mind this song’s title represents a homage to military ‘heroes’, in keeping with world-wide trend of erecting statues in memory of soldiers who lost their lives in wars. While Fela in his lifetime cannot be described as ‘a good bed-fellow’ of military orientation and approach in a civil society, his song Unknown Soldier has nothing to do with homage to the memories of fallen soldiers. Rather, Fela wrote the song as a result of a controversy that ‘rocked’ the military regime of General Obasanjo in 1977.
On February 18, 1977 one thousand Nigerian Army Soldiers, attacked and burnt-down Fela’s Kalakuta Republic.
The official justification given for the attack by the army, was that they went to Kalakuta to arrest some members who after a fight with a military corporal for traffic violation, burnt down the motor cycle the corporal was riding and escaped into Fela’s Kalakuta republic.
Contrary to what the Obasanjo regime (1976-1979) would have people believe, there is no doubt that Fela’s refusal to participate in the FESTAC ‘77 sham, the sea of black power salutes that surrounded him wherever he went in Nigeria, and his uncompromising bold lyrics condemning government’s corruption, plus his financing and publishing of YAP NEWS were the true reasons behind the Nigerian Army attack.
I refer us regularly on this page to Fela Anikulapo-Kuti because he was the man who sang yesterday about today and tomorrow to come. When we hear Babangida say publicly that he gave 35 million Naira to Abiola for his election campaign one cannot but remember songs like “Army Arrangement” or “Just Like that” with words like: “…no be Obasanjo put him old paddy-paddy for there. The young politicians him come shuffle them for one side. In the name of democracy, justice and fair-play! Just like that!
Army Arrangement is about Nigeria’s attempt in 1979, at a transition to ‘democracy’ after more than a decade of military rule. More than three decades after Fela wrote the song we can as Nigerians, ask ourselves the question: What has changed in the way we are governed?
In the 70’s when we were publishing monthly and distributing for free 80,000 copies of YAP NEWS (Young African Pioneers news letter), we didn’t have all the social networks available today. Maybe if we had, the more than 40,000 civilians standing and watching while 1,000 Nigerian Army soldiers were burning down in broad-day-light Fela’s Kalakuta Republic would have reacted differently.
Fela’s attempt to rally the more than forty-thousand people watching was prevented by the invading Nigerian Army soldiers. The armed soldiers prevented Fela’s boys from mounting the public address system by throwing stone and sticks at them. Today with a simple tweet or text message on the social network, I am certain that at least more than ten-thousand of those 40,000 people watching Nigerian Army attack Fela’s Kalakuta would have reacted differently – that is the advantage of social network today.
Brothers and sisters out there at this point in our history, it is necessary to be determined in our purpose as all things that have happened in the history of humanity were due to the human determination and decisions. “Shoulder your arms and come!” The only way to take our country back from those PDP, APC, and Paracetamole or is it Alabukun powder is to get organized. Join our Movement Agaist Second Slavery (MASS) Now!
FOR MORE INFORMATION READ FELA, PHENOMENON & LEGACY http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00C4QS9LK