Sunday, April 29, 2007

Elections Rerun and all that Mess

It looks like Imo State has emerged electing a non-PDP candidate to its government house in Owerri. Chief Ikedi Ohakim of the Progressive Peoples Alliance (PPA) rumored to have won the guber election in Imo State, turned voters off on the basis the results had been planned in advance. A recorded voter apathy was seen around the country based on the two previous elections which were marred by irregularities.

The Vanguard News website is not reporting on the elections rerun. I wonder what happened. Also as the election reruns unfolds, Olusegun Obasanjo is so sure of a smooth transition May 29, he has named a 29-man committee "to handle all processes leading to the inauguration and swearing in of Alhaji Musa Yar'Adua as President on 29 May 2007." Among the committee members are Mr. Frank Nweke Jr., Minister of Information and Communications, Ambassador Aguiyi Ironsi, Minister of Defence, and Uche Okereke.

In Ogun State, Obasanjo's eldest daughter and former commissioner of health in the state, Dr. Iyabo Obasanjo-Bello was able to cast her vote while her major opponent Prince Lanre Tejuoso "could not cast his own vote due to shortage of voting materials in his Ago Oko area of Abeokuta."

Nobel Laureate Wole Soyinka is speaking out and has condenmed the elections calling for its cancellation.

Elsewhere, in the nation, Kano businessman Alhaji Sani Yunusa is being interrogated and has been held in detention for a week on his plans to blow up INEC headquarters building in Abuja.

Thursday, April 26, 2007

"Sorrow, Tears and Blood"

"Everybody run run run. Everybody scatter scatter
Some people lost some bread, someone just die.
Police dey come, army dey com
Confusion everywhere,
Several minutes later, all don cool down brother
Police don go away, army don disappear
Them leave sorrow, tears and blood

My people self dey fear too much
We fear for the thing we no see
We fear for the air around us
We fear to fight for freedom
We fear to fight for justice
We fear to fight for happiness
We fear to fight for progress
We always get reasons to fear

We no want die
We no want quench
Mama dey for house
My pickin dey for house
I get one wife
I get one car
I get one house
Papa dey for house
I no want quench
I want enjoy

So policeman go slap your face
You no go talk
Army man go whip your yansh
You go dey look like donkey
Rhodesia dey do them own
Our leaders dey yab for nothing
South Africa dey do them own

Them leave sorrow tears and blood

(Them regular trademarks...")

I have collected every bit of Fela's album from the Highlife Koola Lobitos years to the shrine and Egypt 80 Band where he entertained civil servants and laborers after hours. Thanks to MCA Records and Wrasse Records for remastering the Fela master tapes and making it available anywhere records are sold. But the African 70 era was his best in showbizness. And his Yabis Nights was a class act, the kind of stuff you see at the Laugh Factory on Sunset Boulevard in West Hollywood. Fela was like any other musician who entertained and had fun doing what he loved--the saxophone and piano--singing about social ills, the Lagos jammed traffics, as in "Go Slow," the bleaching cream and what it did to women as in "Yellow Fever," the road rage as in "Shenshema," the troubled ex-convict wandering the streets of Lagos in search of a job as in "Palava," the trouble shooter as in "Trouble Sleep Yanga Wake Am," the arugbo, old timer, who never wants to be called a woman as in "Lady," the garrulous market women agberos who would never give up a fight as in "Roforofo Fight," the lab-testing of his faeces to find out if he swallowed some weed as in "Expensive Shit," the musical drama as in "Open & Close," and the bluffing, threatening to cause harm as in "Shakara (Oloje)."

It was not until injustice and the military juntas began to usurp power that the Chief Priest as he was known by his admirers took his music to another level criticizing a regime that did not mean well for the entire people in terms of freedom and justice. He spoke out, made hits upon hits denouncing a military dictatorship for its pillaging of the people. Then came "Zombie," the track he unleashed at Festival of Black Arts and Culture (FESTAC 77) that got all hell loose as the military juntas came after him with military tanks. Everything he built in Kalakuta Republic was destroyed. Homeless and desperate, he moved to Ghana to play gigs at local clubs. "Zombie" was still causing commotion wherever it's played, even in Ghana, riots broke out at Accra Sports Stadium in a sold out concert because the military juntas in Ghana would not tolerate more insults from a track that demeans a "government."

However, Fela continued his journey, speaking out for a nation's cultural and socio-political ills landing at one J. K. Bremah's house in Ikeja where a new Kalakuta Republic was born. There, the Shrine came back alive and "Unknown Soldier" was released crying on the plunder and demolition of Kalakuta Republic which took his mother's life after being thrown out from the window. Entering the 80s, Fela changed his band's name to Egypt 80 and continued to spread the message.

Elsewhere in the continent, Fela's music had inspired a group of farm workers in Rhodesia when singer Thomas Mapfumo and Joshua Hlomayi Dube formed the Hallelujah Chicken Run Band entertaining off-duty miners, crossing over pop songs with "traditional ideas" and coining the word Chimurenga in their native Shona meaning "struggle." Hallelujah Chicken Run Band's remastered CD released last year can be downloaded or purchased at EMusic.

Of course South Africa did its own too. The legendary trumpeter Hugh Masekela, who once played with Fela spent over trhee decades in exile denouncing Apartheid. Miriam Makeba, the "Mama Africa" spent half of her entire life in exile demostrating through her music an evil empire that would destroy all aspects of civil liberties. In Angola there was Bonga Ku Tando who was on the run from the Portuguese-Angolan regime for the political content of his lyrics.

In analogy, with all the political confusion that has invaded Igbo land today, the Igbo musician is busy collecting money from gigs singing about nouveau riche and titled persons as empire and anarchy prevails. None of the so-called Igbo musicians have come up with situations emanating from a troubled land, especially AlaIgbo.

It took Fela to stand up against injustice, but ironically no one seems to be paying attention. For sure, "Nigeria Jagajaga" made an impact to a point an intolerant president cursed the artist and his family out .But the fact though, he (Fela) is respected and known the world over for his courage. This August, series of gatherings and parties will commemorate the 10th anniversary of his death. The Brooklyn Academy of Music pays similar respect every year.

The coinage of Afro Beat has made Fela a legend as his music spreads across the globe. The Brooklyn-based group ANTIBALAS has adopted Fela's music even with their latest CD, "Security," has every Fela beat in it one would think that's Fela handling the sax and piano. There's also the Chicago Afro Beat Project,an all-white afrobeat ensemble in the windy city, the Boston Afrobeat Society, and many other local groups around the world.

Could someone please tell our local musicians to stop the praises and spraying money in your face and come to terms with reality because we have been conquered? We need some revolutionary songs to lift our spirits not the edifice found on dusty alleys without street numberings.

Adios Amigo!

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Igbos Trapped in Wuruwuru and Magomago Election



1. Umaru Musa Yar’Adua PDP 24,638,063
2. Muhammadu Buhari ANPP 6,605,299
3. Atiku Abubakar AC 2,637,848
4. Orji Uzor Kalu PPA 608,803
5. Attahiru Bafarawa DPP 289,224
6. Chukwuemeka Ojukwu APGA 155,947
7. Pere Ajuwa AD 89,241
8. Rev. Chris Okotie FP 74,049
9. Patrick Utomi ADC 50,849
10. Asakarawon Olapere NPC 33,771
11. Ambrose Owuru HDP 28,519
12. Arthur Nwankwo PNP 24,164
13. Emmanuel Okereke ALP 22,677
14. Lawrence Adedoyin APS 22,409
15. Aliyu Habu Fari NDP 21,974
16. Galadima Liman NNPP 21,665
17. Mazi Ogbu CPP 14,027
18. Sunny Okogwu RPN 13,566
19. Goodswill Nnaji BNPP 11,705
20. Osagie Obayuwara NCP 8,229
21. Olapade Agoro NAC 5,752
22. Abone Solomon NMDP 5,664
23. Isa Odidi ND 5,408
24. Aminu Gambari Abubakar NUP 4,355
25. Mojisola Obasanjo MMN 4,309

What an election never seen before in modern history, and in a nation that is trying to clear its image of corruption from the international community. An election where a major ethnic group (Nd'Igbo) could not tally up to a million votes in all the votes garnered. An election Nd'Igbo are applauding a PDP daylight robbery when international observers including the European Union Observer Mission (EUOM) acknowledged the elections were crippled "by poor organizations, lack of essential transparency, widespread irregularirties, significant evidence of fraud particularly during the result collation process, lack of equal conditions for contestants and numerous incidence of violence."

So, on what ground are the Igbo opportunists, especially Igbo Diaspora applauding an election the entire world had rejected on fraudulent basis? On what ground are these Igbo opportunists pumping up because it's lunchtime with cronies alike when the Yorubas and the Sultanates including the almajiris with the help of their masters are running the show while we feed from their crumbs and leftovers? On what ground are Nd'Igbo holding their tongues when all these bad things are happening to us since the post-Civil War era? On what ground should we wait till "Thy Kingdom Come? On what ground, folks?

But I now weep for the Igbo nation because we have entirely lost out in the entrapment called Nigeria. I weep for the Igbo nation because the vagaries and uncertainties that have clouded Nigeria has made us a minority in a nation begun by our forebears. I weep for the Igbo nation because when the Youruba nation had developed its enclave, we, Nd'Igbo, are learning how not to love ourselves more in terms of building community. I weep for the Igbo nation because we have been plundered and demolished. I weep for the Igbo nation because we are now a conquered people even though we may not know it. And, I weep for the Igbo nation because we do not know when it hurts real bad.

And I weep for the Igbo nation!

Last Saturday's election which was announced to the media Monday by a blindfolded Maurice Iwu, tells it all. With all the noise, behind closed door meetings as in yahoogroups, where archives are lost because no one is willing to pay, and the local champions in nooks and crannies of chained letters claiming what they aren't with the haul of all that ogbuefi titles, where are Nd'Igbo today when the bigot Olusegun Obasanjo and his tairlored ngbati-ngbati press played hanky panky with the Igbo mind? Of course Nd'Igbo are hiding here and there with fake names in closed door forums because they failed in building community and are now job seekers homeward bound.

Well, "president-elect" and Governor of Katsina State Umar Yar'Adua is seeking a common ground and wants to work with all of his political opponents. For sure, Igbos will be the first to jump the band wagon. In Yar'Adua's own words, "The contest has come and gone, so must our differences be over in the course of building our dear nation. I wish to thank my opponents in the presidential election. You are all respected Nigerians in your own right. I do believe that your participating in the exercise was driven by a strong faith in Nigreria and your belief that you have what it takes to move Nigeria to the next level. And, I want all Nigerians belonging to other political parties to join hands with the PDP to work hard in order to move this country ahead. We have a great task, and we need all hands on deck."

Meanwhile while Yar'Adua is declared "president-elect," the staff of AC and ANPP are arguing that "results of only 11 states had been collated when the chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Maurice Iwu, called a press conference to declare results for the entire 36 states."

No wonder Vice President Atiku lost out entirely because he was busy going to kangaroo courts when he was suppose to fight Obasanjo one-on-one with facts about who is more corrupt rather than running to courts that are equally corrupt as well. But the talakawa lacked tact and exposure. He has never been a smart politician.

At the same time wuruwuru and magomago claimed victory for Yar'Adua, the bad cop image EFCC chief Nuhu Ribadu will sometime this week be elevated to Inspector General of Police (IGP). What that means is OBJ has put everything he wanted into perspective and Orji Kalu and his indicted colleagues should be rest assured that they will be heading to jail in handcuffs upon expiration of the immunity clause that has protected them from prosecution. This time around, no one will be crying for anybody.

I weep for the Igbo nation, and may God help us all!

Monday, April 23, 2007

Lagos Market

The picture here reminds me of the trash dump markets scattered all over Lagos. Scenes like this were typical of Alaba Market (near Suru Bus Stop), Oyingbo Market, Ebutero Market, Balogun Market, Oshodi Market, Boundary Market (by Malu Road), Amuwo Odofin Market, Bariga Market and Isolo Market. These markets operate like flea markets but the trouble here is there are no public latrines where shoppers could take a leak or use restrooms in a civilized way. Shoppers have an option, though. Men, women and children take their leaks in the open, oftentimes by the corners and trash dumps. Interestingly, nothing much has changed. Na wah!

How time flies!

Sunday, April 22, 2007

Election Horror

Well, the April 21 presidential elections in the entrapment called Nigeria was business as usual when the predetermined polls closed Saturday night for the bigot Olusegun Obasanjo who has turned a country into a state of empire and anarchy. What sort of nation is this? How long can a nation be bleeding? Why are the people tight-lipped? Why are the people not engaging themselves in real conversations to find a way out of this whole madness? And, what's going on?

Without a doubt, we are witnessing the worst election and the worst administration in history. The irony: Nobody is saying a word.

Even in the jungle where the fittest survives, I believe there is some kind of order. But it wasn't so in a nation of over 130 million with a "democratic fabric" where democracy and the rule of law is upheld. A police assistant commissioner and eight other cops were gunned down in Nasarawa State, even though it's an Islamic Jihadic state long known for its cycle of violence. According to reports reaching my desk, at least 400 people have died so far in an election we all know who the winner is. While a chopper catapulting materials belonging to Independent National Election Commission (INEC) officials crashed in Owerri killing three people, Yenagoa, the capital of Bayelsa State was turned into a war zone.

There was also "bloodletting in Kano" that left 20 people dead. In the Marine Base area of Port Harcourt, series of explosives and gunshots were fired to disrupt the elections while in Abuja, a truck-bomb designated to blow up INEC Headquarters was thwarted. Ah ah!

All of a sudden, Senate President Ken Nnamani is running for his life alleging a "mischievous plot to hang" him in a trumped up charge that he had in the making a plan for an interim national government which is one of OBJ's fears reflecting back to the Ernest Shonekan and Sani Abacha years. But it's quite obvious OBJ is using his stooge the so-called "Minister of Information and National Orietation" Frank Nweke to cause havoc. Information Minister! Imagine the kind of political appointments given to Nd'Igbo and yet they will be used and thrashed when their service is no longer needed.

We'll see how it unfolds!

Saturday, April 21, 2007

The Presidency: A Fulani Contest

I really hate to do this for I have told myself to stay away from the nasty politics of a banana republic where thuggery and violence is the order of the day in what supposedly should have been a free and fair election. But that's not the case. The problem now is, in a nation of over 250 or more ethnic groups, one ethnic group has the front ruuners making it obvious a Fulani takes over May 29, that is if the bigot Olusegun Obasanjo makes up his mind to step down, especially now that they are cooking up stories against Senate President Ken Nnamani on his plans to set up an interim national government which would land him in Aso Rock.

The Daily Independent article is quite interesting which notes that "Three Nigerians of the Fulani ethnic extraction, Vice President Atiku Abubakar, Major General Muhammad Buhari (rtd), and Alhaji Umaru Musa Yaradua of the Action Congress, (AC), All Nigeria Peoples Party (ANPP), and the ruling Peoples Democratic Party respectively will today slug it out as front runners in the race to find the successor for president Olusegun Obasanjo when his eight-year tenure ends next month."


Thursday, April 19, 2007

Geraldo Pino's "Heavy Heavy Heavy" is a Classic

I remember Geraldo Pino. Yes, I do, and I did watch him several times while he did gigs at Aba in the late seventies. The Sierra Leonean born performer was called all kinds of names in the days of his "funktified" African popular music in the seventies.

Actually, it was about a month or so ago while looking for some old classics driving around town and landing at Amoeba Records that I picked up this "Heavy, Heavy, Heavy" Geraldo Pino & The Heartbeats CD. It cost about sixteen bucks and all the twelve tracks took me back to memory lane.

While cruising, I had in mind that very day to look specifically for South African born and Queen of African pop Brenda Fassie's Greatest Hits especially the powerful lyrical tracks "Vul'indlela" and "Thola Madlozi." If you have seen the video you will know what I'm talking about. But I did get both CDs and right now I think one is dealing with Pino's "Heavy Heavy Heavy," which is really a mind-blowing sensation.

The CD released a couple of years ago by Retro Afric Records and Soundway Records had most of my favorites in the collection, like "Man Pass Man, Iron Dey Cut Iron," sounding more like a real life drama. Also, "Power To The People" was a real jam back in the day. Go grab one and enjoy one of Africa's memoreable musical performances of the seventies.

The tracks are (1)"Heavy Heavy Heavy," (2)"Let Them Talk," (3)"Africa Must Unite," (4)"Shake Hands," (5)"Power To The People," (6)"Let's Have A Party," (7)"Born To Be Free," (8)"Man Pass Man, Iron Dey Cut Iron," (9)"Right In The Centre," (10)"On The Spot," (11)Black Woman Experience," and (12)" Afro Soco Soul Live." Great music if you belong to the soul/funk era.

Do not worry about the election fever in Naija. It's been soldier go soldier come for a country that has no clue what had happened in the course of its history. Time go tell sha!

I shall soon be posting the musical links so you can download for your listening pleasure. But I think these guys here are doing a wonderful job keeping up with the tracks long forgotten. I have also enjoyed the information provided by Afro Funk Forum. Methink the site is great too.

Saturday, April 14, 2007

Nollywood Review: "Girls Cot"

I’m not sure if I should say one is now hooked to Nigerian movies, the Nollywood and fourth-ranked movie industry on the Planet. I have been watching quite a lot lately but I do have a problem with the plots and the titles. They all seem to be the same. Like “Girls Cot” which marks the genuine return of Genevieve Nnaji after a long sabbatical. It has the same resemblance of Nollywood’s previous projects which much appears they have ran out of stories and better creative stuff.

Nollywood should come out bold and start telling stories of human events and tragic moments of our time and beyond. Like Hollywood’s “Shindler’s List,” “We Were Soldiers,” “Pearl Harbor,” "Gangs of New York," “Platoon,” “Hotel Rwanda,” “The Pianist,” “The Holocaust,” “Flags of Our Fathers,” “Letters From Iwo Jima,” “Malcolm X,” “Amistad,” and many more films of that nature, it would be worthy of Nollywood to start producing movies in the same manner with scenes like “Blood on the Niger,” "Aba Market Women Riot," “Asaba Male Death March,” “Where Vultures Feast,” “The Pogrom,” “Never Again,” “A Tragedy Without Heroes,” “Sunset in Biafra,” “No Place to Hide: Crises and Conflicts inside Biafra,” “The Brutality of Nations,” “Blood Lust Hausa-Fulanis,” “The Northern Islamic Jihadist Murderers,” “Adekunle the Beast,” and “The Rapists.”

Most Nollywood movies, if not all, now tells the same story. The story-line and plots has the same similarity even with its different titles which somehow has nothing related to the movie. Take for instance, movies like “Hot Money,” Blood Billionaires,” “Millionaire’s Club,” “Blood Money,” “No Way Out,” “Broken Shield,” “Battle for Battle,” “Under Control,” “Blames of Memories,” “Where Envy Lies,” “Touch My Heart,” “The World of Riches,” “Total Control,” “The Prince,” “Golden Axe,” and many more are chiefly the same with basically the same cast. On the other hand, the titles of most of these movies do not relate to the theme when the movie breaks down to its climax; for example, “Girls Cot.”

First, let’s take a look at the word “cot.” Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary defines “cot” (1) as a light portable bed, one of canvas on a folding frame, and (2) as a small house; a cottage; a hut; a small place of shelter; and a sheath or protective covering. Or could it be as abbreviated—“cot”—Commitments of Traders Report which is a report published every Friday by the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) that seeks to provide investors with up-to-date information on futures market operations and increase the transparency of these complex exchanges. While Merriam-Webster’s Medical Dictionary defines “cot” as a wheeled stretcher for hospital, mortuary, or ambulance service, one is getting confused and puzzled to the subject-matter in question—“Girls Cot.” Maybe, the logic here works as the movie plays on.

“Girls Cot,” an all-star cast marking the return of Genevieve Nnaji is about campus girls in a town where politicians, government officials and top-notch businessmen run the show. The movie stars Nnaji as Queen; Uche Jumbo as Bella; Rita Dominic as Alicia and Ini Edo as Eve. It also features Bonita Nzeribe and McMaurice Ndubueze and directed by Afam Okereke.

The movie starts with a high speed chase on either a moving violation or a crime committed by the foursome Queen, Bella, Alicia and Eve. They reach their destination while on hot pursuit by the cops. The cops could not arrest them on the ground the compound they vroomed into belongs to the men of higher places. All you could do in the words of these girls was for the cops to vamoose before they get themselves into some big trouble. Much is made in the movie of the fact that these girls did not think of themselves as prostitutes. They were just ordinary campus girls who get by scamming the top shots and politicians in Abuja.

Bella and Eve shared a room in the school dorm (perhaps the word “cot” appropriately fits here as in a small shelter place) when Eve runs into Alicia in an alley where sluts hangs out to do business. Alicia, desperate, destitute and kicked out by her uncle had no place to stay. Eve comes to the rescue and offers her a squatting spot in the dorm room she shared with Bella. Bella complains but later gives in and accepts Alicia’s temporary stay. Later on Queen arrives and claims the room had been allocated to her from the students’ office. A little squabbles over the issue but worked out as the four most dangerous and most glamorous girls in Abuja sets out for a kill.

Although the story is centered on Queen (Nnaji) who calls the shots and makes all the connections, the most interesting character in the movie is Alicia beautifully acted by Rita Dominic who had always lost out on the men who slept with her and quite often would either not pay her or leave a little change while she is still asleep in her hotel room. Over and over again her vulnerability makes her an easy lay for cheap change until Queen played by Nnaji, the Vice President’s daughter who had gone low profile to live in the dorm rather than rent a flat off campus, comes to the rescue using her Abuja connections to get everyone involved in a high scale prostitution ring. Not even the bad guys on campus could touch or mess with these girls who had power and money, and had the politicians and business moguls slammed in their pockets. The scam is played over and over again. The movies upshot shows the power of escort enterprise if you have the right connections.
"Bad Girls" or "The Vice President's Daughter" would have made a better and logical title for the movie.

My ratings: Three Stars.

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Igbo Children In Finland

I decided I should post this amazing Youtube video depicting Igbo cultural heritage maintained in Diaspora as newer generation learns about culture being whole and not parts. The video speaks volume.

Sunday, April 01, 2007

Seventies Commodores and Jam Sessions

The Ambrose Ehirim Files

For some reasons I cannot explain, something popped up in my mind reminiscing the seventies jam sessions when imported US and UK grooves influenced local musical ensembles of the day.

Every now and then, I dust off my packed vinyl LPs, long obsolete for the way technology considerably changed, especially in electronics. What it means is that I have packed every musical gadget in my household—the tower-like speakers, amplifiers, cassette tapes, VCR—for the fact it occupies unnecessary space and now that very tiny gadgets, as small as a cable TV remote control can supply any form of music loud enough to blow out your ear drums.

Dusting off these LPs, I picked up Commodores “Machine Gun” released as a single in 1974. The first time I heard this track already an album was in 1975 while holidaying at my brother’s house in Lagos. I had not paid much attention to this group until sometime in 1976 while attending a ballroom dance with my childhood buddy Andy Iheanacho and other friends in the complex of an all girls secondary school on the hills of Uruala. We had trekked more than five miles holding our three layers, the Bootsy Collins kind of boots in our hands with our tight-fitting-wide bottom pants folded up from another secondary school up the hill for this much anticipated dance in a complex that has nothing but girls.

While we walked and climbed the hill leading to the school on the left, we discussed extensively the music of the day. Hughes Corporation, Crown Heights Affair, K.C. & the Sunshine Band, George McCrae, Marvin Gaye, James Brown, Muscle Shoals Horns, Jimmy Castor Bunch, Dramatics, O’Jays, Billy Paul, Bill Withers, Isaac Hayes, and many other R & B flavored influences, with a groove obverted discothèque approach.

And we arrived!

At the same time while we enjoyed the imports and “boogie nights”—“Young Girls Are My Weakness,” “I Feel Sanctified,” “Machine Gun,” “Soul Limbo,” “Rock The Boat,” “Ring My Bell,” “Let’s Get It On,” “Joy,” “For The Love Of Money,” “Payback,” “Do It Good,” “Hustle To The Music,” “Smiling Faces,” Papa Was A Rolling Stone,” and all that great hits, Anwar Richards and his Kenyan-born colleagues catapulted Matata to London doing gigs at the pubs and night clubs. Mac Tontoh and his brother, Teddy Osei, in the days of egwu onwa, moonlight plays, formed Osibisa and turned every household in London into a crowded house with those “Kokorokoo,” “Sweet America,” “Basa Basa,” “Fire,” “Che Che Kule” and “Woyaya” smash hits. South African legendary trumpeter, Hugh Masekela did sessions with Fela and Osibisa, and recorded "The Boys' Doing It" while in exile, on the run from a bastardized Apartheid regime. Meanwhile, the Funkees were funky, too. Jake Solo and Harry Mosco Agada shooting it straight like the Bad Company took Funkees to another level. London pubs were jammed because Funkees hanged around doing their own thing.

It was something else, how “we” teenagers of the day rocked every disco hall to these "funked-up" attitudes from the East (all over) to the West (Lagos in particular). As teens, we were attracted to the socio-political concepts of Karl Marx even though politics in that era was a “taboo,” something that can get one into trouble, thus the presence of the military juntas who ruled by the barrel of the gun.

Back in the day, grooving the way we did, one must belong to the era’s socially accepted group (SAG) in order to hang. Each SAG had its own thing going on, though; there were the highlife buffs and ikwokirikwo-ajasco dancers whose passion for Congo and East African soukous/rumba music had taken them to a whole new height. They had their own gigs which played only highlife, soukous and the kind of ikwokirikwo music Ikenga Super Stars of Africa invented.

My kind of fraternity back in the day was absolutely engaged with US and UK imports which influenced local ensembles like the Apostles, Wings, One World, Doves, Wrinkers Experience, Black Children, Strangers and Founders 15 in the East; and also the “Chief Priest” Fela, Segun Bucknor, BLO (Berkeley Ike Jones, Laolu Akins and Mike Odumosu), St. Gregory College spoiled brats Ofege, Tirogo, Joni Haastrup and Monomono in the West (Lagos in particular). “Yeah,” Lagos was jamming and everybody felt like bursting loose, the Chuck Brown and the Soul Searchers way. Friday Jumbo had called it quit with Fela’s Africa ‘70 Band joining the flamboyant Joni Haastrup and Kenneth Okulolo to form the group Monomono. A whole lot of these stuffs have been digitally re-waxed and reproduced on CD. The pure funk of Ofo & The Black Company’s “Allah Wakbarr” recently compiled alongside William Onyeabor, Joni Haastrup and Monomono, Afro Funk, Strangers’ “Survival,” Matata’s “Wanna Do My Thing” including The Funkees “Love Rock” makes one “wanna holla” whenever I hear these masterpieces.

It’s all good vibes, especially when one remembers the legendary vocalist, Spud Nathan, whose life was cut short by the nasty sting of bad roads on Njaba Bridge deliberately neglected by Ukpabi Asika’s administration. But hey, at least, Nathan got this far with hits that changed the pop world in the East and beyond. I’m still spinning his good old vibes; those powerful lyrics that made the girls had an instant crush on us the hippies. Now, I don’t mean the kind of sixties hippies that swept through the United States and Europe on a counterculture revolution. We were just “hippies.” We obeyed our parents—had our routine confessions and attended mass on Sundays as prescribed by the Roman Catholic Church--did the right thing and kept intact the cultural heritage of our forebears, not the kind of Woodstock hippies that rebelled against the establishment.

By the way, why is Tirogo “Everybody Loves Funky Lagos” popping up? I heard of this funked-up group when Jacob Akinyemi Johnson (JAJ) was on primetime at Radio Nigeria 2, AM/FM Stereo; so to speak, the way these party animals bragged about it and made something out of it; which made Lagos the New York City of Africa. “Yeah,” Lagos was really jamming, back in the day!

Enter “Machine Gun.” Many of my peers thought Machine Gun was a name of a musical group not knowing it was a cut from the Commodores debut titled “Machine Gun,” which melted every teen of that era. “Machine Gun” was the opening act for the Commodores’ long journey that would span nearly a decade before Lionel Richie’s solo projects. The album is still selling and the Commodores, believe it or not, are taking every royalty to the bank, unlike the case of our wretched musicians who are not only in penury through bad business decisions but denied royalty by pirates and bootleggers who copied every bit of their song with impunity.

The Commodores met as freshmen at the Tuskegee Institute in Tuskegee, Alabama where they began singing and playing instruments to entertain the girls. It was just a pastime until local businessman Benny Ashburn discovered such magnificent talents with potentials to blow up. And, of course, they did. After opening gigs for the Jackson Five in 1971, Berry Gordy who ran Motown efficiently signed these lads from Tuskegee and the rest would be history. Everything the Commodores touched turned gold and hits upon hits carried them through over the years.

The band’s early years at Tuskegee had Lionel Richie on saxophone; Thomas McClary on Guitar; Milan Williams on keyboards; Walter “Clyde” Orange on drums; William King on trumpet and Ronald LaPread on bass. They produced hits and club numbers without winning a Grammy until the exit of Richie when British born J.D. Nicholas of Heatwave was invited to replace Richie’s powerful chords. “Night Shift,” a tribute to Marvin Gaye was then produced and Commodores finally won a Grammy Award.

We use to sing that song verbatim at party jams waving our handkerchiefs and raising our hands and it echoed something like this:

Marvin, he was a friend of mine
And he could sing a song
His heart in every line
Marvin sang of the joy and pain
He opened up our minds
And I still can hear him say
Aw talk to me so you can see
What’s going on
Say you will sing your songs
Forever, evermore

Gonna be some sweet sounds
Coming down on the night shift
I bet you’re singing proud
Oh I bet you’ll pull a crowd
Gonna be a long night
On the night shift
Oh you found another home
I know you are not alone
On the night shift…

That was how it wrapped up through the eighties with the magic tough of Nicholas which made its Grammy nomination inevitable. Oh, by the way, I got to go now. The month has just ended and you know what’s up.