Fela Kuti – Zombie

Zombie was released around 76/77. It’s one of the iconic Fela’s songs, a harsh critique of the Nigerian soldiers who blindly follow, usually inhumane, orders.

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.

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.

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