In 1976, Nigerian musician Fela Kuti released a song titled Zombie that criticised the oppressive military regime in Nigeria. In the song, Kuti compares the Nigerian military personnel to zombies who follow orders mindlessly.

A pioneer of the Afrobeat genre, Kuti’s skills with the saxophone and his sharp vocals lead the song and pick a steady pace right from the start.

Zombie, Fela Kuti.

His contempt for the military regime was made explicit through the lyrics:

Tell them to go straight
A joro, jara, joro
No break, no job, no sense
A joro, jara, joro
Tell them to go killA joro, jara, joro

The song’s popularity spread like wildfire across the country and it was understood that it was aimed at the establishment. This infuriated the regime further as tensions between the musician and them had simmered for long. As a result, the government forces attacked Kuti’s commune leaving him and his followers severely injured.

The song was released at a time when a newly independent Nigeria was just recovering from a Civil War that took place in 1967. The next decade was rife with multiple attempts to destabilise the government through military coups.

But during that time, Kuti became a towering figure who was outspoken about his political views, and bridged them with his music until his death in 1997.

Read all the articles in the Art of Resistance series here.