When I Write A Line Of Song And I know It Will Annoy Somebody, It Gives Me Joy – Seun Kuti

It was an interesting evening recently  when Seun Anikulapo-Kuti, scion of the legendary Afro beat icon, Fela Anikulapo-Kuti had his latest album listening party entitled, ‘Black Times.’

Held at Kalakuta Museum, Ikeja, Lagos, Seun took time to explain reasons behind the eight tracker which was ably assisted by the Fela Egypt 80 band.
He speaks about the album as well as topical issues.

What is your mindset on this album?

We thank you all who came to support me. We must resist their narrative, the entirety of the existence of the bourgeoisies of this country. They are against us. They are our oppressors. They have to realize that we are their enemies and we are going to resist them in every way that we can and that is the reason why I chose to be an enemy of my oppressor. 

The more young people of Nigeria decide to be an enemy of their oppressor and not the victim, we will have progress in this country and that is the mindset that I have. When I write a line of my song and I know it will annoy somebody it brings joy to me. When I talk and they say, this guy is a hater, it gives me joy. These are the ammunition these ignorant people have. We have a website of our movement (Naija Resistance Movement.org) where you can check what we are doing to move our country forward. It is possible.

Do you feel like you are trying to regain recognition or acceptance as the young people listen to pop and other genre. Do you feel Afro beat is still gaining ground in Nigeria or is Afro-beat trying to gain lost ground?

Afro-beat music will exist in the entirety of the existence of people that are young today. Afro-beat is music for the mind that is mature enough to expand itself. It is not about what we want to do when we were kids. It is what we want to do when we are grown. There has to be pop music for the mind that is still discovering itself, a mind that is growing. There is no way anybody can stop that. Young people want to have fun. You will have a problem though if you are a person that wants to stay young for your entire life. The same dreams you have at 20 are the same you have at 30, 40, 50 years old, you repeat the same thing all over. I hope there are not people like that, if they are, then they should be few. 

What I do with my music is not about popularity or commercial success. I’m carrying a touch, an idea, a message. For me, I’m Fela’s son. I am also a musician. Afro-beat is my legacy, something that is in my blood; it belongs to me. I’m not like anybody else that would say that Fela is his father, yeah, that is all good but you know, I am Fela’s blood. People would not want you to say that, embrace it and completely own it but that is what it is. It is you disliking somebody because he won a lottery. I don’t think there is a lost ground. The only thing that is different is the commercialization of what Afro-beat is. That one is because we do not represent the elitist narrative in this country. People invest a lot in Afro-beat. People invest a lot in Nollywood. 

The elites of this country invest more in our entertainment that they do in our education. All over the world it is the elite that control education. They put money in education in Cambridge, Harvard, Yale etc, it is the rich people of those countries that pump money into those universities to make them what they are. But in Nigeria, they chose to pump money into a different kind of education and that is indoctrination. They make their music to suite their wealth as if wealth is everything. They attack our solidarity. Your father, mother, sister, brother want to kill you. In fact some people  cannot leave their drink to wee because they believe that like four people here want to kill them. That falls into a larger narrative. There is no natural culture in any African country really. 

They are tribal culture. I don’t believe in tribe, there is no such thing. We are all nations but have tribal cultures like the Yoruba, Igbo, Hausa culture. There is no Nigerian culture. The Nigerian culture can only develop from nation building. We the people of Nigeria are altogether building our nation, that is when we build the culture but most people that say we believe in one Nigeria are never interested in nation building and that is where ‘one Nigeria’ comes into existence. I for one do not want to go to Zamfara and stay. You cannot push me enough to go and live in Zamfara. Even if you give me N50m a year, N100m, I say no! Give me the governor of Zamfara, I say no!  So, to build a national culture, we need to develop the country and that is the only culture to export to the world.   

What we are having now is that we colonise the elitist that are completely disconnected with the people. They show fake solidarity to the people, they show culture. But what culture is it really? It is not the Nigerian culture but their ego. Nigerian culture is yet to exist yet because we have not engaged in national building. That is what I believe and that is my political ambition. 

Talking about political ambition, are you nursing any?

It is not winning an election but trying as much as possible to politicize the population. That is my political dream. If there is a movement that can politicize the people, it means we can create a government of the people. When people are politicised, it means the government would have to be from the people. Any decision government makes has to be popular.  You don’t see any politician try to politicise the populace, they all want to use rhetorics, recycle themselves all over again. I believe we should politicise Nigerians so that we can engage in aggressive wealth distribution and it’s about time for that.

Do you have a record label?
We do have a record label called Black House but I don’t put my artistes by genre. I put them as we say in America, ‘area code.’ I pick artistes around within about five mile radius from here and I try to invest in their music, not trying to be their label in that sense. What we do is we pay for their beats, recordings, help them get on the radio and hopefully if he makes it, he can play it forward to the next young musician that is coming in our neigbourhood. We have an artiste now called Juggernaut. We just finished shooting his second video. He is well known in Ikeja, now it’s time to take him from Ikeja to Lagos. As they say, Africa to the world.

We see what you are doing with Naija Resistance Movement but do you have any initiative to push the pan African narrative because you haven’t really done an African tour as you been touring the world?

The reason why an African tour has been difficult for me is that I don’t have the backing here to do that. We don’t have the financial strength individually.  We don’t have the corporate sponsorship or government support that would be necessary for me to carry my 15-band members and do a tour of Africa. I have done it once though. I toured West to East Africa. We stopped in Congo Kinshasa. It was in 2009. That was the farthest we went. It was sponsored by the French government actually. 

I’m always interested in spreading my message across Africa but I realized that since my message is against the elites who are in charge of the continent, it is difficult for us as revolutionary artistes playing struggle sounds and black music to have the support of the people we speak against. That has been the biggest hindrance to do shows and promote my band here in terms of touring but that is changing. Individually we are able to find allies in different countries who would be willing to put on show. We can go to a country, do a one off and come back but whatever it is, we are planning to open up Africa. North Africa has given us a lot of work now as I will be going to Morocco on the 28th of June. I am looking forward to that.

What are your thoughts on President Buhari’s alleged comment that some Nigerian youths are lazy?

First of all as black people, we need to understand narratives and see things from our own perspective. Apart from president Buhari which other kind of people say black people are lazy, they don’t want to work etc.? Racists! That is the language of racists the Nigerian president uses. If you ask PMB that nuclear bomb has escaped from Silo in America and it has lost control and it would land in Lagos Nigeria or Mecca, Saudi Arabia, let Buhari pick where the bomb wound go. Where would he pick? They don’t respect nor value our lives and our president can speak like a racist against his own people. That is his mind set. That is why I tell people that until he begins to politicise the people, pan Africanise the people, they could be black elites but they are racists.

That is so because the idealogy that is controlling them is the idealogy that is against your existence. We cannot move forward. That is the language of racist and even we ourselves accept it. We even call ourselves tribalists. I am from this or that tribe. What is tribe? It is a racist title that the whiteman formed in their country to describe us. When you think of tribe what comes to your mind? You think of monkeys in the village, in the bush, savages. Yoruba people are 40 million, tribe. The whole of Holland, 17 million, nation. Wales only five million, nation.  But Yoruba 40 million, tribe. And our leaders would say tribe, ethnic group, re-inforcing the racist agenda of their masters. Buhari has spoken worse than this. 

Three days ago he said it is Gadaffi people are the herdsmen killing us in Nigeria. He said it in London. Gadaffi was killed by his British, French and American masters. They also killed all his men with the suppliers of arms who are the moderate extremists which Europe and America carve in Libya, they are the ones causing the Boko Haram violence. Do the research. Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama’s arms proliferation that they caused in Libya brought violence in this country including Mali, Mauritania, Algeria, Western Sahara, Tuarek region, Chad, all over West Africa. Many people are dying because of this debacle by Obama. Our president went there to blame Gadaffi to make his masters happy. The next day he said black people are lazy, they don’t want to work, they want freebies. The same way racist explain our existence and that is the mentality that we accept because when we go to church what do we call ourselves? Why do you think your friends want to kill you? Because you think your friend is lazy, he doesn’t want to work and he wants everything you have for free. That is how we relate to ourselves. We accept it. As we speak people are dying at the general hospital because they do not have money to even buy card let alone pay for hospital bill, they are dying at the waiting room, yet nobody is angry about that but because some politicians are angry and wants to use us telling us that herdsmen kill somebody, that is the time you want to get angry. 

Nigerians do not care if anybody dies, they should stop pretending. Hundreds of Nigerians die like animals on the highway, nobody is protesting but when it is herdsmen issue, we would begin to get angry so that when you see a poor man from the north, you would begin to have some unnecessary hatred. You won’t be angry at the people you are supposed to be angry with. Not that we get angry against the Hausas because if Dangote calls you now, you will respond, we will forget he is Hausa. If Atiku calls you, the same thing will happen. It is only poor Hausa people that we hate. Speak the truth! It is the poor ones that you hate, not the rich ones. That is why they will continue to fuel that kind of message to enforce that kind of thinking. I’m not pained with that kind of nonsense I know it is reactionary. People don’t really know what they are saying. These people do not care about us. 

As long as Africans continue to vote for Christians and Muslims, we are not ready for freedom. I go and work in Europe and bring back all my money here. Every penny. It is a direct opposite of what your government officials are doing. We need to understand the kind of people we are following. Instead of using our money to organize ourselves as young people, spend money to liberate our country, we will be going to build a big church for our pastors. Every new church, you must donate. Which church do they want to use offering money to donate? New church, donate. New mosque, donate. Same thing over and over. We have all these monies to make these people rich but we don’t have it to make our lives better. We must understand that our lives are our future, your children. 

We will be using our money to develop ourselves to build a better nation. Yes, Nigerian youths are lazy because we behave like the elites. All this is because we want to be like them. Anybody that wants to be like Buhari, you are lazy. You don’t want to work but if you don’t want to be like them, you have to be like Fela. Sowore went to meet the Emir of Kano saying he is an upright man because he said N20b got missing but why did he not tell us where the money is? Doesn’t he know where they kept it? Before I believe him, let him give us location of where the missing money is. 9m dollars cash is what they saw at somebody’s backyard. An ordinary GM of NNPC. Just know what is happening. Everybody wants that kind of money and that is the problem. We all cannot have that kind of money. We are about 180 million in population. If God decides to answer all prayers all the companies that produce what we need would collapse. Imagine Rolls Royce having to deliver 180 million Rolls. The company does not have that capacity, it will die.  Live your African dream. Forget this European dream.

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