FELA KUTI & THE AFRICA 70 - KALAKUTA SHOW Vinyl LP
Fela tells the story of the first large-scale police attack on Kalakuta Republic, on 23 November 1974. Following the drug squad raids in the spring that year (documented on the earlier albums Alagbon Close and Expensive Shit), Fela had erected a ten foot high barbed wire fence around the compound and stationed guards at the gate. “There had been so many raids,” he said years later. “You can’t count how many times they beat my people, in my house, on the street.” The defences were insufficient to repel a force of around 70 police armed with tear gas, machetes, wire cutters and axes. On the pretext of searching for a young woman who it was falsely (and quite ludicrously) alleged Fela had abducted, they stormed the compound. After throwing gas canisters into the buildings, forcing the occupants to exit, they set about anyone they could catch, beating men and women alike.
First re-issued as part of Fela Kuti Box Set #5 curated by Chris Martin & Femi Kuti in 2021.
"The Kalakuta Show album release was Fela’s undaunted manner of extracting revenge on the military regime that attacked and brutalized him in 1974. The second of such attacks in a space of eight months, Kalakuta Show was an attempt by the Nigerian police to influence the cause of justice. After the first police raid on Kalakuta in April 1974, Fela was charged to court for: ‘possession of dangerous drugs’, and abduction of ‘minors’. However, the evidence presented by the prosecution was easily explained by the defense, who claimed that the drugs found in the premises belonged to Junction Clinic, a government licensed clinic situated inside Kalakuta Republic and run by Fela’s younger brother, Dr. Beko Ransome Kuti. On the ‘abduction of minor’ charge, all the young girls arrested in Fela’s house denied they were underage, nor abducted, and they claimed in court they went to Fela’s house of their own accord. With no substantial evidence to convict Fela in this highly publicized trial, the police chose to raid Fela’s residence a second time, one week before judgment on the case, hoping to find evidence this time around. The result is the narrative of the grueling and brutal manner the police treated their victims. They list the case, and Fela appearing in court with scalp wounds, and a broken arm, drew more sympathy from the judge than the contrary. A crowd of more than fifty-thousand Lagos youths carried Fela from the court house in the Apapa area of Lagos to Kalakuta Republic—a distance of about six kilometers. During this jubilation, traffic was at a stand-still for several hours in the central part of Lagos mainland.
Don’t Make Garan Garan: The right to the land belongs to all. We are all sons and daughters of the land—sings Fela in Don’t Make Big-Mannism for me. Ganran Ganran in Yoruba language means: an egoist, full of himself, self-centered person. The rich and highly placed Nigerians, who frequently try to lord it over the poor, are being asked to know their limits. For if they bring their big-manism close to him (Fela), heaven will fall: ‘…to ba se ganran ganran si mi orun awoo! We all know that, if heaven falls it will fall on everyone,’ he concludes."
- Mabinuori Kayode Idowu