In many parts of the world, protest songs have long been used by movements seeking social change. In Nigeria, the likes of the late Afrobeat legend, Fela Anikulapo-Kuti and Ras Kimono, have been recognised for their protest music that still mirrors the reality of present-day Nigeria, decades after. These artises have paved the way for a generation of socio-conscious musicians whose music matters so much right now.
Here, PREMIUM TIMES presents some of Nigeria’s best protest songs
Fela – ‘Sorrow, Tears & Blood’ (1977)
Although ‘Sorrow, Tears & Blood’ was originally released in 1977 in response to the Soweto Uprising of 1976, the lyrics matter so much at a time like this.
The lyrics went, “So policeman go slap your face, You no go talk
Army man go whip your yansh,You go they look like donkey
Rhodesia they do them own,Our leaders they yab for nothing
South Africa they do them own,Them leave sorrow, tears and blood
Them regular trademark’’.
Ras Kimono- Gimme Likkle Sugar – 1988
‘Gimme Likkle Sugar’, was one of the lead singles off Ras Kimimono’s 1988 debut album, ‘Under Pressure’. The classic song touched on police brutality and bad governance.
The lyrics, “See them lying, the police are shooting innocent people, what a pity inna we city’’.
Majek Fashek- ‘Police Brutality’ (1988)
‘Police Brutality’ was one of the hit tracks from Majek Fashek’s debut solo album, ‘Prisoner of Conscience’.
Lyrics, ‘‘Police brutality, they kill, they shoot, dem dey loot, dem dey kill leaders of tomorrow. Dem kill only innocent souls, insanity. This insanity has caused a lot of disunity in my community.
Dagrin- ‘Democracy’ (2008)
The late Dagrin released this timeless track 12 years ago and the lyrics remain relevant in present day Nigeria.
On the track, Dagrin rapped about the state of the country and corruption in the Nigerian police force.
Lyrics, ‘‘Nigeria ni mo ti ri t’olopa ma n toro bara, Nitori twenty naira won le fi ba e faa ya!”
PSquare- Oga Police (2005)
‘Oga Police ‘was one of the hit tracks from ‘Get Squared’ which was the sophomore album of the now disbanded twin singing sensation, Psquare.
Lyrics, ‘‘Tell me.Na wetin you go do for this life,Wey police no go come harass you. I no know oh.Even though you be superstar.Them go still come embarrass you.Tell me Na wetin you go do for this life
Wey police no go come harass you. Oga police e
Wetin be this eNa which kind yawa be this e No, no.”
D’banj -Mr.Olopa (2005)
The track was the seventh song on D’banj’s debut album, ‘No Long Thing’. In the track, D’banj narrated how he was harassed and beaten up by the police during a routine stop and check.
Lyrics, “ I have been dreaming along until we stopped by the cops. Excuse me, what have i done wrong, why all the questions and what have i done wrong?But, i have gat all my papers right here.
They begin to slap and abuse me They begin to scatter my widescreen, they begin to cause my mama, dey course my papa
There is nothing I do you o.Mr Olopa! kini mo she fun e o
Mr Olopa! kini mo she fun e o E fi mi sile kin lo jeje.”
African China- Mr President (2005)
‘Mr President’ is the lead track of African China’s debut album of the same title. The track was one of the best-selling songs of 2005 in Nigeria at the time. The song was an open letter to the president highlighting some of the ills of the Nigerian society including police brutality.
Asa- ‘Jailer’ (2007)
‘Jailer’, released in 2007, was the lead song in “Asa’s eponymous album.
In the track,Asa sang about the rot in the Nigerian police and Nigerian Prisons Service.about the Nigerian police and the prison service.
Eedris Abdulkareem – “Jaga Jaga’ (2004)
In 2004, Eedris released his third album “Jaga Jaga”, a slang for shambles. The track bemoaned corruption and suffering in Nigeria. The rack was banned from radio by President Olusegun Obasanjo, but continued to be played in nightclubs.
Falz – ‘Johnny’ (2019)
Burna Boy (The Monster You Made) (2020)
Asa 9 lives (2020)
Laycon – Fuck You (End Sars)
Shatta Wale – F*ck Sars
Zlatan – “EndSARS
Dremo – “Thieves In Uniform”
Rude boy- Oga
Ajebo Hustlers -” Barawo” ft Davido
Ruggedman – “Is Police Your Friend?”
Dotman – “Naija #EndSARS”
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