“Nigerians Still Embracing The Fela Spirit” …Falz

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Nigerians are ready for a return to the days of Fela Kuti, when musicians used their high profile to address political and social issues, rapper Falz told AFP in an interview.

Falz’s latest track “This is Nigeria”— an adaptation of US performer Childish Gambino’s This is America — has racked up more than four million viewers on YouTube in just two weeks.

In it, he highlights widespread violence and corruption in Africa’s most populous nation, in stark contrast to fellow artists and their fixation with wealth and status.

The 27-year-old performer acknowledged that his subject matter — from Boko Haram Islamists and disputes over land and water to crooked police and politicians — was controversial.

“But I didn’t foresee the magnitude of the response… This has really encouraged me to continue doing that,” he said.

“Everyone is carried away with our entertainment and enjoyment of life and we forget that a lot of things are really happening here…

 

“There are a lot of things that we need to constantly talk about so that somehow there should be a recognition of this… People feel that the Fela Kuti spirit needs to come back.”

Fela, the self-styled “Black President” and pioneer of Afrobeat, was known as much for his outspoken political and social views during years of military rule as for his music.

Falz’s real name is Folarin Falana. His father, the leading human rights lawyer Femi Falana once represented Fela.

The rapper said his father, whose speeches are sampled at the beginning and end of ‘This is Nigeria’, had been a major influence.

Musicians should recognise they also have a position of power, with a “huge voice” that should be used as a force for good.

Nigeria is entering a highly charged period before elections in February next year in which President Muhammadu Buhari hopes to secure a second term.

 

Already, the former military ruler’s record on tackling insecurity, cutting corruption and boosting the economy is coming under close scrutiny.

Falz said it was important for the country’s massive youth population to understand they have the power to change their future, including the problems outlined in ‘This is Nigeria’.

“It’s a democratic system of government, it’s government of the people,” he said.