Classic jazz arrangements and highlife harmonies weren’t always natural partners, until Fela decided he would inspire the world with his Afrobeat compositions. His sound married his indigenous and foreign influences before he added on lyrics that preached the traditional cultures he believed in with the enthusiasm of an activist. It made him the perfect voice to speak on the social-economic and political climate of the times.
22 years after his tragic death, Fela’s music continues to be timeless as the track, “Water No Get Enemy” from his 1975 album, ‘Expensive Shit’ resonates with the global chaos plastered all over the news today. The 9-minute track gave him room to show off the depth of his lyrics, while also stretching the range of his Afrobeat instrumental arrangement. The fluid mix of highlife guitar baselines, horns harmonies, percussion and his enchanting call and response melodies matched the lyrics’s theme, which stress the medicinal importance of water.
wash your hands & stay safe 🙏🏿 pic.twitter.com/hOnJh5u64S
— The NATIVE (@NativeMag) March 11, 2020
Singing “To ba fe we, omi loma lo/If you want to wash, na water you go use”, the ode to water seemed to compare the indispensability of water to Fela’s resilience in the face of oppression. However, those exact lyrics could be the difference between good health today and possibly contracting the Coronavirus spreading across the world.
‘Rona has captured the entire world’s attention and is getting more of it by the day, affecting the daily lives of so many people all over the world. The fear of spreading the COVID-19 has forced many regions in the world to restrict the movement of people both across borderlines and within local communities. Though African countries like Ghana and Rwanda have enacted curfews and closed down public gatherings and such, the Nigerian government seems to be placing a lot of faith in the hand sanitising and washing hands.
Well, Fela has been telling us.
Listen to “Water No Get Enemy”.
Featured Image Credits: Web/zammagazine
You are meeting Debola at a strange time in his life. He wandered into a dream and lost his way back. Tweet at him @debola_abimbolu