Original Suffer Head (1981) / I.T.T. (1980)
Original Suffer Head
The first album Fela released under Egypt 80’s name, Original Sufferhead was recorded shortly after a particularly savage beating he received from the police in 1981 (the only beating, among dozens that he received over the years, during which he felt that his life was in danger). Extraordinarily, despite a civilian government supposedly being in power at the time, no-one was ever prosecuted, much less punished, for the assault. Arguing from the personal to the political, Fela describes the inhuman treatment and poor living conditions experienced by working class Nigerians, the sufferheads. “…We sleep inside dustbins, we sleep under bridges… we must be crazy in the head, what about ordinary houses for man to live in? E no dey (there are none). Trouble? E yen dey (it is here)…”
Originally released by Lagos International.
In “I.T.T.” Fela delivers eviscerating attacks on two of his biggest personal enemies: former Nigerian president General Obasanjo, and the local chief executive of the multi-national corporations Internal Telephone & Telegraph (ITT) and Decca Records, Chief Moshood Abiola. Fela regarded Obasanjo as a crook, an incompetent and a thug, and held him directly responsible for the death of his mother following the army’s 1977 sack of Kalakuta Republic. Abiola, he believed, had both cheated him out of royalties and conspired with Obasanjo to silence him after the attack, in order to maintain favourable relations with the regime. Both men, Fela says, are “thieves,” “rats” and of “low mentality.” Originally released by Kalakuta.