‘Zombie’ (Original year of release 1976-1977) – On the title track Fela and the backup singers ridicule the mindset of men in uniform over an urgent, quick-march accompaniment from Afrika 70. The album was a scathing attack on Nigerian soldiers using the zombie metaphor to describe the methods of the Nigerian military. ‘Zombie’ was a smash hit with the people and infuriated the government, setting off a vicious attack against the Kalakuta Republic (a commune that Fela had established in Nigeria). Fela was badly beaten, sustaining a fractured skull and several broken bones. His mother, then aged 77, was thrown out of a window, fracturing a leg and suffering deep trauma. The army then set fire to the compound. The blaze gutted the premises, destroying six Afrika 70 vehicles, all Fela’s master tapes and band equipment and a four-track recording studio.
Zombie: Fela in his life time was never ‘a good bed-fellow’ of the military institution. As a political activist, he believed the army should operate under the mandate of a civil government. If national interest compels the armed forces to intervene in government, the army is obliged to hand over power to a new civil government elected by the people and enjoying their mandate. To do otherwise is to usurp power particularly since a soldier’s duty is not to seek a political mandate. For emphasis in the song, he narrates the military in motion comparing their orientation to the Zombie, without minds of their own. Fela paid a big price for this bold condemnation of the military institution. One thousand members of the Nigerian army attacked and burnt down his house after the release of the record. The tribunal set up to investigate the cause of the attack as a result of the public out-cry against the army, heard, as part of the evidence presented, an example of the Zombie album cover with the military uniform and boots displayed boldly. The army justification of the attack was that Fela treated the military institution with levity.
Mister Follow Follow: Mr. Follow Follow is about those who allow themselves to be led blindly by others. Since nobody can live in isolation, Fela sings about those who follow with their eyes wide open and those who follow with their eyes closed. Saying if you have to follow, it is better to follow with your eyes and ears open. For if you follow blindly, you will always remain in the dark: ‘…if you dey follow them book! Na inside cupboard you go quench!…cockroach dey! Rat dey!…na inside darkness you go dey! If you have to follow them books, you have to read with some sense, see with your eyes and hear with your ears’, he concludes. – Mabinuori Kayode Idowu
In response to popular demand Knitting Factory Records reissue seven of Nigerian icon and Afrobeat originator Fela Kuti’s most important albums. This will be the first time they are released individually since their original vinyl release in Nigeria in the 70s and 80s. The LPs feature the original releases’ iconic artwork and include digital download card and liner notes. The seven LPs were included in the third Fela Kuti box set, curated by Brian Eno and released in 2014. This is the first time these titles have been released individually on vinyl.
A – Zombie (12:25)
B – Mr. Follow Follow (Mister Follow Follow) (12:57)