OpEd: Fela’s Political Ideology a remedy to Africa’s existing Poverty
The political ideology of Olufela Olusegun Oludotun Ransome-Kuti was an unprecedented body of knowledge that influenced every facet of African life.
From music to activism, advocacy and politics, Fela exported Africa to the world long before Nigeria started exporting Crude oil. Fela dared the status quo, he dared the norms, he opposed impunity, he stood eyeball to eyeball with Military leaders, he changed the image of Africa to the world, and he made black a relevant color to the international community.Despite all the external accolades, Fela was detested by his own people, he was called names, he was stigmatized, he was vilified, a scenario we still find in our present day Nigeria , oppress anybody that refuses to accept mediocrity.
The average Nigerian is not happy when someone complains or stands up to point out the inadequacies of our dysfunctional system.
Just recently the convener of the #EndSars movement Segun Awosanya after leading a social media movement for police reforms was castigated and called out by the very same Nigerians he was trying to fight for.
Nigerians enjoy mediocrity in governance, because they have been blindfolded by the opium of religion and ethnicity.
The two variables have continuously improvised the Nigerian people.
Today the country and by extension ‘Africa’ plays host to the highest number of poor people in the world. Meanwhile the number of churches in this part of the world is far more greater than Israel as a whole (I used Israel because it is supposed to be the cradle of Christianity)
The number of pilgrims going to Mecca increase yearly, but then, the number of out of school children in the north is reaching a climax point!
If only half of the religious houses in Nigeria were factories we might not have overtaken India in the poverty marathon.
To be spiritual is not only by praying, going to church, or worshiping at a mosque, Spiritualism is the understanding of the universe so as to make it a better place.
Religion has blocked the consciousness of the average Nigerian Citizen!
The very reason why you complain of corruption in Aso Rock only to turn a blind eye to the looting going on among your pastors and Imams. It is not your fault it is the Nigerian system, there is always an excuse to fight freedom.
The Nigerian society easily forgets the basic issues once the gullible variables of religion and ethnicity are thrown at their faces.
Fela stood for the truth, he opposed tyranny (A default setting in most Africa state devices)
He must be turning in his grave now when he learns that the man he fought tooth and nail against, for the benefit of the Nigerian masses has come back to town, this time he was democratically elected by the very same people he was fighting for.
Fela will be marveled at the betrayal of the average Nigerian person, not just in terms of betraying his trust, but betraying their own individual selves, they figuratively went back to their vomit!
Fela’s activism and political Ideology was focused on emancipation of the mind, because an uninformed mind is a poor mind! Poverty is not lack of money, but lack of ideas.
Fela used his music to educate and enlighten the minds of the masses, which didn’t go down well with the political bourgeois, the political elites deliberately denied the people basic education, because they know the potency of an educated mind towards the reformation of any society.
A look at Africa Nigeria today, literacy level is dropping drastically, terrorism is increasing tremendously, cattle rustling casualties is skyrocketing!
Fela’s political ideology centered on collectivism, happiness, equity and justice .
According to Carlos Moore, Fela’s biographer, the level of happiness and contentment he saw at the Klakuta republic (Fela’s abode) was overwhelming; according to him he had never seen Nigerians that happy!
He saw happiness in simplicity; the world will call intelligent those who simplify complex things and not those who complicate simple things.
The simplicity of Fela’s life was what the Nigerian military heads of state at that time detests!
They hate living a simple life, for them governance is not supposed to be simple; it’s supposed to look like rocket science! Governance to these military African leaders is supposed to look extravagant, a culture that has since been passed down to the present generation of African leaders.
Governance is different from politics; the former is not rocket science, the later can be very herculean maybe because of the insincerity and selfish interests of the people who go into it.
Nevertheless governance is not rocket science, Fela understood this and decided to run for the highest office of the land in 1979, but trust the system it doesn’t encourage reforms, so he lost, his political party was not even registered!
Its sad that we don’t operate a system that is receptive to reforms, we are okay with the status-quo, it’s okay for a politician to perform poorly after 4 years, only to present you with 3 pieces of onion and some food condiments on the eve of the election day just to buy your conscience for another 4 years.
The truth is that until we eliminate poverty from our national life, Nigerians might not understand what good governance is. We would continue celebrating mediocrity in governance.
Fela was Pan –African, he identified himself as an African first before referring to himself as a Nigerian, then of course a Yoruba man! He didn’t let ethnicity and religious sentiment becloud his judgment and preferences, Fela married women from different countries!
And all of them lived happily under one roof(Klakuta Republic) This is something that is not obtainable in the present day Nigeria as a Man and his only wife can’t even live happily under one roof talk more of the one that decides to marry several wives.
Have you ever wondered why Fela was celebrated by the Western society more than his own people? Sentiments! religious and ethnic sentiments, he smokes Marijuana, he commits adultery, he doesn’t speak my native language. But the western world where religious and ethnic bigotry are on the low, they celebrated him.
But back home here, the religious poverty capital of the world, we frown at his message, because of our religious and ethnic sentiments when we know deep down that he was only expressing our innermost heart desires.
Until we inculcate the culture of sincerity as a people, we would continuously have insincere leaders.
Ndubuaku Kanayo is a Journalist, Social Commentator, and a Public Policy Analyst.
He writes from Lagos