No love songs from me---Seun Kuti
You may experience a long wait if you desire to hear Seun Kuti sing a love song. “Love songs can only be true in societies where basic things are within reach for everybody and not in societies where candle light cannot depict romance.”
Seun still carries on the ‘Fela-philosophy’, to sing about societal concerns that awaken a consciousness in the people. He is convinced that a most desirable change in Africa should be about developing the minds of people to believe in their age-long civilization. This for him can only be possible when there is openness in the affairs that concerns society at large.
He laughs at what he calls ‘a misconception’ of him because people think that his life is all about Fela. “I am very much my own person, and what my dad and I have in common is music. Even if I like women, it is not an influence from Fela, it is about what I like to do. Whatever I do, I do because of myself, so people shouldn’t judge me that I do things because I want to be like my father,” he said.
A crusader for African arts, Seun believes that Africans would be better people if they use their arts to project who they truly are. He said, “If most Africans understood what it means to be an artist and an African, they would use their music and their art to pursue freedom for their people just like Fela did”.
Singing a love song may just be a luxury that may not come for an African like Seun. He does not see how a love song would impact on the lives of people who are still struggling to survive on a daily basis. He says, “Right now we don’t need to sing about love in our music in Africa because that is secondary to what is happening to us. Singing love is like trying to copy people who have running water and electricity supply in their houses. Let us have running water and electricity in our houses first, and then we can think of love.
“Check out the amazing question you would be asked in Nigeria if you put of the light and put up a candle. You will hear something like “Has the electricity supply been cut?”, but if you do that in a place like New York, then you will hear something like “Oh, so romantic.” So let us wait for when candle light means romance, and then I can start singing about love.”
From Seun’s perspective, meaningful change must be a process, away from the kind of change he thinks Nigerians are pursuing. “It is the rush for immediate results that make a number of Nigerians become gullible to empty promises from politicians who promise the unrealistic in the shortest time ever. But Nigerians must learn to educate themselves to know what change really is, and understand how to ask for change”.
Talking about the institutionalization of change agents, Seun wants change to begin with the thinking of the African, for him to understand that the knowledge he had of his environment was useful for his survival. He established that Africans have always had their own forms of education before the coming of the Whiteman to the continent therefore, it was wrong for Africans to have been addressed as uncivilized. “Africans through the ages have always been educated in our own ways because, before the Whiteman came to Africa every young boy in Africa could tell you the names of different plants and what they did medicinally. But people have been brainwashed to think that that is being ‘bush’, but which is in fact education, knowing your environment.”