Fela Releases "Zombie" and His Compound is Attacked by Soldiers
Date: February 18, 1977
Turned on to the Black Panther Party by his girlfriend Sandra Smith during a 1969 trip to the United States, Nigerian musician/activist Fela Anikulapo Kuti began infusing his Afrobeat music with revolutionary messages. In 1977 he and his band Afrika 70 released the album Zombie, whose brazen title track was a thinly veiled audio attack on the Nigerian army soldiers who backed up the corrupt regime that was making the independent African nation a "prison of people." The powers that be were not amused, and sent hundreds of soldiers to attack Fela's compound, which he referred to as the Kalakuta Republic. During the raid Fela was beaten, his compound and recording studio burned, and his mother was thrown from a window. She later died, and Fela responded by delivering her coffin to the steps of the military barracks in Lagos Nigeria. He would later write the song "Coffin for Head of State," form his own political party, and run for president in the 1980 electionsâ€”proving Fela's maxim that "Music is the weapon of the future."