Music & Social Criticism in Nigeria

Thompson Olusegun Ewata


Fela Anikulapo-Kuti used Yabis, his style of music and the Pidgin English to address the political, economic, and social conditions of the common man, the black race and the world. To him, music serves the multidimensional purposes of entertaining as well as educating the masses on the shortcomings in society; and healing the state – ultimately, the world. The song, Beast of no nation (Anikulapo-Kuti, 1989), analysed in the paper, describes a state of betrayal of innocent citizens by officers of the state and government of the day. It also takes a swipe at the United Nations. As a social commentator, Fela employed the medium of satire through the means of parody to ridicule the Nigerian judicial system; the government and comment on the vanity of the United Nations. Using the discourse analytical tool of conversation analysis, the paper adopted the concepts of adjacency pairs, turn-taking and turn the switch in analysing the sequencing of turns in the Beast of no nation as an interaction and as a real language element that communicates meaning to the intended audience. The paper discovered the song used different interaction devices, among which are: discourse markers (46, of 5 types, 2 universal and 3 localised), silence or short pauses (10), turns (150), adjacency pairs (54) as well as turn switches other transitional devices. The most significant finding of the paper is the extent to which Fela has used Pidgin English to effectively communicate his message to his audience using the discourse elements of the pidgin.



conversation analysis, Fela Anikulapo, yabis, Pidgin, social commentary.

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