“In FELA’s KALAKUTA, hitting someone was a major offense. It was called “first touch” and was severely punished. FELA neither beat up any soldier. Nor anyone in uniform for that matter. Never.”
PEGASUS REPORTERS, LAGOS | MAY 16, 2023
I used to think this Duke Of Shomolu knew what he wrote about. Apparently, he’s just a fiction writer. Seun Kuti, is Seun Kuti. And FELA Is FELA. It’s totally mischievous and misinformation to draw a parallel where none exists and the height of ignorance, In whatever guise.
Mr. Duke tried to paint FELA as someone who attacked people in authority physically. Lie. Big Lie. He only used his music as a weapon. As a matter of fact, nobody who lived In KALAKUTA in FELA DAYS will do this. None. (Seun slapping a policeman) In FELA’s KALAKUTA, hitting someone was a major offense. It was called “first touch” and was severely punished. FELA neither beat up any soldier. Nor anyone in uniform for that matter. Never.
The so-called Duke Of Shomolu also said “Seun was showing a great disrespect to a symbol of our statehood, the way his father did and suffered for it.” THAT IS A MOST DISRESPECTFUL, NONSENSICAL, AND UNCHARITABLE WAY OF DESCRIBING WHAT FELA STOOD FOR. Not knowing is not really the bane of ignorance but the inability and mental laziness to seek facts.
The writer talked about the incident leading to the KALAKUTA INFERNO. He said FELA attacked a military man whose reprisal was the burning of KALAKUTA by irate Soldiers. That’s a lie from the pit of hell. FELA Was Not At The Scene Of the altercation with the Soldier. No. He Wasn’t.
Recall that this was the era of Col. Paul Tarfa as the Traffic Marshal in Lagos State. Punishment for traffic offenses was public flogging by Soldiers. That was the Traffic Edict of Lagos State. Parents were flogged in the presence of their Children. FELA stood against this dehumanization and together with his YOUNG AFRICAN PIONEERS (YAP), Organisation, led a ”Col. Tarfa Must Go”, Campaign. That’s how much he (Fela Kuti) hated brutalization.
So, it was, on the day of KALAKUTA INFERNO when one of FELA’s aides riding a KALAKUTA Motorcycle was accosted by a Traffic Soldier. The Soldier brought out the horsewhip, “koboko”, and started flogging the “erring” cyclist who then seized the whip from the Soldier and retaliated whilst he jumped onto his bike and sped off. The soldiers chased after him on their military motorbikes. At KALAKUTA he parked and ran into the Compound. KALAKUTA Fence was electrified, so climbing into the compound, was not an option for the soldiers. With the hullabaloo growing, FELA came out and demanded to know what was amiss.
The soldiers just wanted FELA to hand over the “offending” aide to them and of course, he refused, as any leader would. Whereupon the soldiers went into the ALBALTI Barracks to mobilize and descended on KALAKUTA.
This Duke, under our very eyes, is deliberately trying to distort history, for reasons best known to him. FELA Is not a prehistoric event. All those who lived in the FELA era are still alive and know the FELA Story. So no one should twist the FELA Story. If you don’t know, ask, or read.
FELA had a very good relationship with men in uniform. His brother-in-law was a Soldier, Brigadier General Ogundipe, so also his nephew, Brigadier General Ransome-Kuti, Dr. Beko Ransome-Kuti’s son. His mentor and Father figure was my stepdad, MD Yusufu, former Inspector General of Police. Throughout the MD Yusufu Era, with Gen. Obasanjo as the Head of State, no police attack was carried out on KALAKUTA.
As a matter of fact, a week or so before the KALAKUTA ATTACK, after FESTAC’77, MD Yusufu had gone to KALAKUTA To warn FELA. His words, “These people are planning to snooker you to a corner. I don’t know how but that’s the feeling in government.” A few days after this, KALAKUTA came down in Hot Flames. So it could have been for any reason, they were just waiting for the slightest opportunity to “snooker him to a corner”.
*So Duke should stop painting lies in flowery prose.
As for Seun Kuti, the young man has repeatedly said at interviews and various fora that he hardly knew FELA, talking more of being influenced by him. He sincerely and readily admits that the FELA He saw was completely different from the FELA He reads in books or hears in tales. Remember he was barely fourteen years old when FELA died. Deal with Seun’s perceived excesses as Seun’s. Otherwise, limit your audience to an under-the moonlight tree in Shomolu.
Mallam Abdul Okwechime is a Renowned Journalist and Researcher.
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