Fela Kuti, Dim Ojukwu, Two men, One great Legacy

If you can’t fix them, leave them!

Fela Anikulapo-Kuti {Img: NatGeo}

NewsRescue- It initially seems odd, that these two remarkable, great men, could leave a single, same legacy. One,- the most famous Igbo man in history, worldwide, and the other, no doubt the single most famous Yoruba name in history, for all times and worldwide. Fela is now honored in the US (which he even despised), with a popular Broadway show, ‘Fela on Broadway’.

What common legacy did these two great visionaries from Nigeria leave?- They, were crusaders of progress, of strong African determination. They saw the fine line Africans must tread to restore the continent to its position as world leaders, and when they fought to take the Nation along- Ojukwu as a prominent political General of the Nigerian post independence army and Fela also a General, but with music his weapon of choice- both men decided that if you can’t fix them, leave them.

Emancipate yourselves

Bob Marley song and quote

If you can not take Nigeria along, drag it out of its desire to be a carcass, a colonial tool and toy, wrapped up in all the colonial twines of decadence, greed, corruption, enmity, divisionism and destruction; you must free yourself from it. In airplanes, we are advised to first put on our mask, before trying to assist other passengers, and this was their very principle and legacy.

Ojukwu carved out his region, a region of people he knew would listen and take Nigeria the direction he had envisioned it should go as proper African- and not just- but also world leaders. He carved off Biafra republic and gave his people independence from the baggage that was Nigeria. His Nation had discipline, peace, recognition of the sense of communal belonging, appreciation for themselves and love of their Nation.

Fela carved out and gave his people an independent Nation- Kalakuta republic. An independent Nation within that baggage that was Nigeria. His people had respect for law and order, patriotism, a sense of communal living and belonging and true loyalty and pride to the Kalakuta republic. Traits missing in the larger Nigeria.

Within these two Nations, both pragmatic men at last had a chance to self determine and direct the ship in a sensible direction, away from the decadence and chaos of colonization, away from continued slavery and servitude to the whims and wishes of the colonial master, away from the hate, greed, tribalism and animality that was inherited from the divide-and-conquer and exploit weapon of colonization.

Related: Vanguard- It’s distortion of history to refer to Ojukwu as Igbo leader – Opeyemi

Ikemba Dim Ojukwu

At independence, Ojukwu had said that at last he saw a chance for Nigeria. He saw a bright future of greatness, being freed of the bondage’s of the European. He could see a bright light ahead, and ‘he tiptoed’ on ‘his mark’, to demonstrate how he thought Nigeria and its new leadership were ready to sprint forward to greatness. To his dismay, year after year after independence, he realized he was the only one who had that vision. Everyone else was sleeping. Myopic, vision-less and in a deep retrogressive slumber. And when he recognized that no one was ready to take Africa where it should go, in 1967 Dim Ojukwu liberated Biafra. {Watch Video at 3.01 as Ojukwu declares this: http://youtu.be/J3ReFoFp0Gs } The Biafra civil war was so unique in world history, 30 months of war that ‘Doctors without borders’ was established due to the needs of this unique struggle.

Both Nations destroyed by Obasanjo

Fela described the predicament of Nigeria thus- that in a country that is blind, and that has only a single eye. This single eye, they borrowed from the colonial master, and this eye, this single eye is only a photocopy of an eye borrowed from the colonial master, that is passed around to see by all citizens of Nigeria. He, Fela, had two original, pure African eyes, which he used to see. Fela fought to take people along. He sang prophetic songs- still just coming to pass, self determination songs, revolution songs, but few listened. He was attacked, his republic razed, his mother murdered by the longest serving president of Nigeria, Olusegun Obasanjo, coincidentally the same individual, the army commander at the time, that destroyed Ojukwu’s Biafra. But Fela maintained independence for his people.


Both patriots, as Ojukwu in his last statement of how he wished to be remembered described himself, recognized at a point that- if the ‘hopeless’ democratic system was what had to be contended with to make change, then they will lead by example and fight with this tool to show the masses that no way is too senseless and no system too impossible to breech in order to make change. Both visionaries vied for presidency, but lost, because the masses are ‘lost’.

Related- Democracy Fails Africa

Legacy of Love

The legacy’s of Fela and Ojukwu teach us one thing among many- That we should never give up our quest to save our people, but most importantly, that we must start that process by saving ourselves. To love others, we must first establish and love ourselves. If we are drowning, how do we pull the rest continent up? We must first carve out a region of sanity, a region of sense, or moral discipline and uprightness for ourselves. Biafra republic was Ojukwu’s attempt, and Kalakuta republic was Fela’s. Regions they could contain and control and determine. For us, we may start with ourselves, first ensuring we ourselves are sensible, sane, reasonable and emancipated. Then we move ahead to liberate our families, communities and so on. Not out of hate for others, further than our immediate republics, but as a means to show an example of what sanity looks like, and then ultimately as a means to assist those other regions and the greater Nation and continent, to rise, safe and secure from the fangs of the evil that is intricately wound up in the fiber of our post-colonial existence.

Fela on Broadway, show by Jay Z Carter, Will Smith, Jada etc