V.I.P (1979) / Authority Stealing (1980)
The lyric for “Vagabonds In Power” was inspired by an encounter Fela had with Sam Nujoma, leader of the Namibian liberation movement, the South West Africa People’s Organisation (SWAPO), on a flight to Lagos in 1978. During the flight, Fela was troubled by Nujoma’s slogan “the struggle continues.” Fela flashed that Nujoma, who was travelling first class, was happy for the Namibian civil war to continue indefinitely, for while it did, he enjoyed a life of comfort elsewhere. Fela’s scepticism increased when after landing at Lagos, Nujoma and his party were whisked away in a fleet of government limos. “…Him no know hungry people,” sings Fela, “him no know jobless people, him no know homeless people, him no know suffering people, him go dey ride best car, him go dey chop best food, him go dey live best house, him go dey waka for road, you go dey commot for road for am, him go dey steal money…” Would Nujoma’s frontline fighters, asks Fela, be treated in the same way? Originally released by Kalakuta.
On “Authority Stealing,” Fela says that the corrupt and fraudulent practices of the Nigerian upper classes are worse than robberies committed by poor people. On one side, says Fela, you have hungry people: “Them go dey try, to try to make ends meet, them go dey hustle, to try to make ends meet, them go put hands for back, to try to make ends meet, them go dey beg oga, to try to make ends meet, them go be slaves for dem town, to try to make ends meet.” On the other side, you have “…authority man in charge of money, him no need gun him need pen, pen got power gun no get, if gun steal eighty thousand naira, pen go steal two billion naira… Different way be them way, na similar style be them style: authority stealing pass armed robbery.” The first pressing of the LP contained a special edition of the Young African Pioneers’ YAP News exposing the white-collar theft of 2.8 billion naira of the country’s oil income. Originally released by Kalakuta.