Knitting Factory Records
In O.D.O.O., Fela sings about the effects of military usurpation of power and the destruction of African young democracy since independence- particularly young democracies, that fought and won independence after long confrontations, and sometimes wars with colonial powers. He said when they come to power, the coup plotters assume names such as: Nigerian Supreme Military Council, Ghana Redemption Council, Libyan Revolutionary, etc. Most times the coup plots were planned and financed by departing colonial powers. To those who are not aware, the arrival of the military in the political arena creates the illusion of a peaceful ‘democratic’ participation and functioning government. Particularly, since most of the daily running of government is performed by civilians who report to military bosses. For Fela, under normal circumstances, the duty of the armed forces is to defend and support the civil government; not to overthrow it or usurp the duties of any branch of government because it has no political mandate. To do the contrary- that means ‘Overtake-overtake’. Any idea of a prosperous, peaceful country with the military at the helm of power is nothing but an illusion. Persistent scandals and corruption at the highest level of power, a hallmark of each and successive regimes since independence, helps put Fela’s disillusion and distrust of the military in perspective. Pointing to the ambiguity of modeling newly independent African nation’s constitution after those of the departing colonial masters, as the root cause of our problems. Fela in his sarcastic manner calls what passes as government in Africa as: ‘…soldier go! Soldier come!’, meaning the institution that created the military structure purposefully put the army there to continue their colonial work. To paint a clear picture of the plight of Africans under such dictatorship, Fela mentions a list of songs he had written, criticizing the wrongs of the system: Kalakuta Show! Mr. Follow-Follow! Zombie! Shuffering and Shmiling!. Unfortunately, it is the poor masses who suffer most from these mismanagement and corruption in government. From an early age, Africans children are forced to learn how to survive in a system where you don’t know where your next meal is coming from—no social security, no education, etc. Despite all these setbacks, Africans still try to educate their children, the children grow up, taking steady jobs to better their lives, saving money here and cutting edges there just to survive. In the end, Overtake Don Overtake Overtake because events of the mismanagement’s from various administrations render all sacrifices and cutting edges the individual makes to better his life useless.
- Mabinuori Kayode Idowu
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