Femi Kuti


It’s Sunday night and the Positive Force are warming us all up for the incredible, inimitable Femi Kuti and as the groove swells and the brass punches in and Femi starts dancing, we all start dancing too, and all the cares in the world melt away and a huge grin spreads across my face.

If anyone has come to stand and watch in silence, they are quickly shaken out of that notion and the whole crowd are soon shouting, singing and cheering every song, solo and proclamation of this wonderful, uplifting experience. Femi (I feel so welcome here that I’m sure we are on first name terms) takes the time and makes the effort to draw everyone in and to educate us, too.

Like his father Fela before him, Femi is hugely politically active. Of course, as a Nigerian band, the activism is through a prism of Nigerian and African issues, neatly summed up in ‘You Better Ask Yourself’ about the exploitation of Africa’s natural wealth. But in our current globalised, interconnected world, much of what Femi touches on is global and is no less close to home for the people in the Manchester audience – it’s just that the Westerners here are predominantly the beneficiaries of the exploitation in this system, rather than the exploited.

Of course, we’re not struggling against institutional corruption, blackouts in a time of rapid population growth but many of us struggle against a government who victimises the disabled, cuts services for the poor and families and gives the money to the richest in the form of tax cuts – so as Femi says, the enemy is the same, their methods are the same.

I’m not claiming I’m a victim or trying to reduce the suffering of anyone else – I am just echoing the point that Femi makes that we are all on the same side and we all ought to stand up not just for ourselves, not just our country but for all of us as a global family.

Unfortunately, this family is divided and driven by capitalism and corporations who exploit the poorest in the world (with Africa considered the poorest continent on Earth) as they bring us the goods to maintain our lifestyle. In the process, we are cut off from other human beings and denied the opportunity to bond, to learn and to cooperate – but Femi Kuti and the Positive Force, at least for these few hours, bring this audience together – and hopefully everyone in the room walks out a little happier and a little closer to a member of their global family…

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Chris Oliver

I've been playing bass guitar and guitar for over half my life. I last played bass in in a band called Electromotive and as a singer-songwriter I have written songs about cheese and vajazzles (separate songs!). I started out listening to 60s, 70s and 80s rock as a kid and I was in to grunge and U.S. punk and ska in the 90s. Since then, I've broadened my tastes and I like the best of all styles of music, even country. I've been writing for Silent Radio since it started.