Coffin For Head of State (1980) / Unknown Soldier (1979)
Coffin For Head of State
The first half of “Coffin For Head Of State” deals, via a metaphorical journey, with the harmful impact of Islam and Christianity on Nigeria. The second half describes a real journey: a protest march Fela made, accompanied by his family and members of the Young African Pioneers, on head of state General Obasanjo’s residence at Dodan army barracks on 30 September 1979, the day before Obasanjo retired from the Nigerian presidency. The purpose of the march was to shame Obasanjo for causing Fela’s mother’s death (her health steadily declined after being thrown out of a second-floor window by soldiers during the army’s 1977 attack on Kalakuta Republic). The protesters deposited a symbolic coffin outside Obasanjo’s house. On leaving the barracks, Fela and the other mourners were attacked and ferociously beaten by soldiers. Originally released by Kalakuta.
The title track examines the 1977 attack on Kalakuta Republic through the prism of the official enquiry which declared the army institutionally innocent of burning down the buildings in the compound. An “unknown soldier” was blamed, when all the evidence - including the army’s obstruction of the fire brigade, and the presence of senior officers - pointed to a pre-planned, co-ordinated attack. “…Them dey break, yes, them dey steal, yes, them dey loot, yes, them dey fuck some of the women by force, yes, them dey rape, yes, them dey burn, yes, them commot one student's eye, yes, them break some some head, them throw my mama, seventy-eight-year-old mama, political mama, ideological mama, influential mama, them throw my mama out from window, them kill my mama….” Finally, Fela observes, “government magic” veils the government’s violence against its citizens. Originally released by Phonodisk Skylark.