What would happen if Fela and Bob Marley teamed up?

What would happen if Fela and Bob Marley teamed up?
August 02
11:03 2019


I often fantasise about the perfect tag-team.

In wrestling, in the good old days of IWF, it was how the partnership between Mill Mascara and Mighty Igor would pan out. Would the masked one have won them the fight against, say, The Mongos in his typical fashion of climbing the ropes and diving at full length? Or the uniquely dressed Igor gave their blond-haired opponents a bear hug even a bear would be proud of?

I pictured it. I still do.

One of my fantasies actually came to reality in 2017. What would happen if Superman and Batman work in tandem to save the world from evil ones? It got answered in Justice League. Well, it wasn’t a tag-team per se; more like a Royal Rumble with my crush, Gal Galdot, as Wonder Woman, and Aquaman, Cyborg, and the Flash in the mix.

We shall soon get to the story proper but let me bore you with two more fantasies of mine.

If you are a fan of detective novels, (the hard-boiled detective stories, I mean) you would love to savour a book written by the two masters of the genre – Dashiell Hammet and Raymond Chandler.

Wouldn’t it be nice to see the witty Sam Spade and the laconic Philip Marlowe find out who killed Dele Giwa and the motive behind his murder? Think about it! (PS: Giwa was killed on October 19, 1986, four days after Fela’s birthday; a day before mine)

Can I do without bringing football into the equation? Doubt it!

Wouldn’t it be nice to see Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo in the same team in a competitive match? I can’t possibly predict the outcome of the game especially if the opposing side is handled by a “park the bus/gone beyond his sell by date” (expired is the right word but it would have been too harsh) coach.

However, I know for sure that his fellow Portuguese wouldn’t want to be outshone by the more talented Argentine.

Left-side freekick? “I’ll take it.”

Right-side freekick? “Leave it for me.”

Penalty he earned? “No brainer on who will take it.”

Penalty another teammate was involved in? “I will take it.”

Throw-in? “Messi you take it but throw the ball back to me!”

Now let’s cut to the chase: what would happen if Fela Anikulapo-Kuti and Bob Nester Marley team up to release the mother of all albums?

For a start, the choice of these legendary maestros is based on the fact that, erm, they are legends and maestros and this story is on music! There’s, however, a personal reason.

Do you know that the first census in the United States was conducted on August 2, 1790? Or that Ghana got her independence on May 11, 1956? Remarkable as these events are, they pale in comparison to the memories of very particular deaths and births August 2 and May 11 evoke in me.

August 2? Fela’s demise; the birth of his brother, Beko Ransome-Kuti; and the birth of a beloved sister, Jennifer Ogungbayo (now late); and the birth of a (not so beloved, LOL!) cousin, Sola Idowu (very much alive and kicking).

May 11? The death of Marley and the birth of another cousin, Edward Eboh (very much alive too, once estranged with me, but now we are patching things up).

I keep digressing. I won’t any more. I promise.

So, our ideal tag-team sees the king of reggae jamming with Afrobeat personified. Quite a tantalising prospect. Quite an odd one, too. But to say there’s a clear distinction between their two styles of music is not the same as saying the two artistes can’t work together to produce something even more distinct.

Not without sorting out some knotty issues – real or imagined!

Would the band be called Bob Marley and Egypt ’80 or Fela Anikulapo-Kuti and the Wailers? Would the fusion of their music be called Afro Ragga or Reggae Afrodisiac? But then, what music has joined together, let no real or imagined issues put asunder!

Now let’s talk about Genesis 1!

To create music, like Nick Hornby wrote in his book 32 Songs, is to “pull something out of thin air; to produce something where there was previously nothing.” Fela and Bob used to do that but they could also get inspiration from their bitter and sweet experiences. More of the bitters.

The music activists could also look at how the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) – especially No Poverty, Zero Hunger, Good Health and Well-being, Quality Education, Affordable and Clean Energy, Reducing Inequality, Peace, Justice, and Strong Institutions – can be achieved using music as a tool.

And in doing that, it sets the tone for the mixing and matching and scratching and tweaking and formulating of new and enduring tunes.

It is easy to hazard a guess and conclude that theirs will be “protest” songs. With a combined career spanning 58 years and popular hits like Jeun Koku, I Shot the Sheriff, Zombie, Get Up Stand Up, Beast of No Nation, Redemption Song, Power Show, Kaya, it’s a safe conclusion.

Without a doubt, theirs will be a kind of music that will wriggle itself into the part of your brain reserved for music storage and stay there for many years.

With the help of imagery, flashbacks, and digressions (more of digressions) I have connected Fela Anikulapo-Kuti and Bob Marley. Mine, though, are mere words. Their music will do things words can’t do. On the release of the ten-tracker, weddings, parties, anniversaries won’t be the same again.

Now, all I need is to find a genie to bring this fantasy to life and change the world forever!


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