Words by Sean Moeller, Illustration by Johnnie Cluney, Recording engineered and mastered by Sam Patlove
You need go no further that the title track of Femi Kuti's latest album, "Africa For Africa," to understand the eldest son of the legendary Fela Kuti. It's a message that dancehall and reggae singers have been a broken record about for decades, upon decades. It's their mission. It's been a Kuti family mission forever. It is the central theme of everything they're trying to do with music - instilling brotherhood and discouraging the violence and bloodshed that have led to the repressing conditions of Africa for generations and generations. There has never been a time when these worries and concerns weren't the most worrisome things that any African might have on his or her mind, but the current climate in the Sudan and elsewhere in the famished country is at new levels. It's easily the most hurting country on the planet and it's getting worse quickly. It's all, 100-percent about survival and yet, the people of Kuti's homeland get so little help along that path when most others don't even have to consider living one day to the next. Most everything elsewhere is cushy in comparison and the questions have always dealt with the cruel, inhumanities of it. There's no reason for any people to suffer the way that those living in the drought-stricken country have suffered and yet the music continues, begging for an end to the suffering. It's been said that the people with the biggest guns in Africa are the people who eat every day. If you don't have the firearms, you're going to starve. You will be effectively cut off from any aid that's being shipped into the country and even that amount of aid is woefully less than what's needed in a place that doesn't have anywhere near the amount of food or water to sustain its millions and millions of malnourished people. Kuti and his music are needed now more than ever. We've seen it happen so many times in the past, where sentiments brought to the forefront via the stage and through microphones can move people to make some shift, to make a difference. This essay will stop here because we're all better off just listening to Kuti's words as well as those that make us his father's legacy and really thinking about what they mean to us, and for a proud and pained people. We should think about what we're doing to help things get better.
Knitting Factory Records