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Interview: Young Fathers

We chat with buzzing trio Young Fathers to talk about their Nigerian/Liberian background, Naija pop influences and much more.


Young Fathers — the Edinburgh-based trio composed of Liberian-bred Alloysious, Nigeria's Kayus and beatsmith G — have quickly become standout act in our world for their sonic marriage of African traditions, punk aesthetics, rap tendencies and a general experimental nature. We had a quick chat with the typically tight-lipped group about their backgrounds, influences and love of Wizkid and Wande Coal.

How did you three meet and start making music?

We met in a dingy club while we were dancing when we were 14.

You have a melting pot style that's hard to define. How would you describe Young Fathers' music?

You get there by going. We make it and it’s for other people to decide.

Alloysious and Kayus, how do you feel your Liberian/Nigerian backgrounds influence the sound, if at all?

Alloysious: I heard African music and gospel stuff as a child from my mum – I don’t know if any of that has consciously crept in.

Kayus: Aye, when I hear some of the stuff I’ve recorded it sounds like some of the things my mum or dad would say, the mannerisms in which they would say them. We don’t go out of our way to make it obvious, but it’s just a part of us.

What are some acts your listening to recently? Any groups from Africa you're currently into?

K: When I went to Nigeria at Christmas I was listening to a lot of Sunny Ade – he was performing next door to where I was visiting at Park View in Lagos (I was staying in Sobo). It just made me remember I used to hear him at weddings at parties so I bought a CD for the nostalgia.

G:  Tinariwen, Lou Reed’s Transformer.

All: Wizkid. Wande Coal.

Tape One's been floating around for some time online and is now getting the official Anticon release. Have you started working on new material, what would you like to do next?

TAPE TWO is coming out in March and then tour, busy in the studio, building a new album for the autumn.

Grab Young Fathers Tape One, which is out now, and read more about them from our Africa In Your Earbuds piece.

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Photo by KOLA SULAIMON/AFP via Getty Image

#EndSARS: 1 Year Later And It's Business As Usual For The Nigerian Government

Thousands filled the streets of Nigeria to remember those slain in The #LekkiTollGateMassacre...while the government insists it didn't happen.

This week marks 1 year since Nigerians began protests against police brutality and demanded an end to the Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS). The #EndSARS protests took the world by storm as we witnessed Nigerian forces abuse, harass and murder those fighting for a free nation. Reports of illegal detention, profiling, extortion, and extrajudicial killings followed the special task force's existence, forcing the government to demolish the unit on October 11th, 2020. However, protestors remained angered and desperate to be heard. It wasn't until October 20th, when soldiers opened fire on demonstrators at Lekki tollgate in the country's capital, Lagos, that the protests came to a fatal end. More than 56 deaths from across the country were reported, while hundreds more were traumatized as the Nigerian government continued to rule by force. The incident sparked global outrage as the Nigerian army refused to acknowledge or admit to firing shots at unarmed protesters in the dead of night.

It's a year later, and nothing has changed.

Young Nigerians claim to still face unnecessary and violent interactions with the police and none of the demands towards systemic changes have been met. Fisayo Soyombo the founder of the Foundation for Investigative Journalism, told Al Jazeera, "Yes, there has not been any reform. Police brutality exists till today," while maintaining that his organization has reported "scores" of cases of police brutality over this past year.

During October 2020's protests, Nigerian authorities turned a blind eye and insisted that the youth-led movement was anti-government and intended to overthrow the administration of current President Muhammadu Buhari. During a press conference on Wednesday, in an attempt to discredit the protests, Minister of Information and Culture Lai Mohammed hailed the Nigerian army and police forces for the role they played in the #EndSARS protests, going as far as to say that the Lekki Toll Massacre was a "phantom massacre with no bodies." These brazen claims came while protesters continued to gather in several major cities across the country. The minister even went on to shame CNN, Nigerian favorite DJ Switch as well as Amnesty International, for reporting deaths at Lekki. Mohammed pushed even further by saying, "The six soldiers and 37 policemen who died during the EndSARS protests are human beings with families, even though the human rights organizations and CNN simply ignored their deaths, choosing instead to trumpet a phantom massacre."

With the reports of abuse still coming out of the West African nation, an end to the struggle is not in sight. During Wednesday's protest, a journalist for the Daily Post was detained by Nigerian forces while covering the demonstrations.

According to the BBC, additional police units have been set up in the place of SARS, though some resurfacing SARS officers and allies claim to still be around.

Young Nigerians relied heavily on social media during the protests and returned this year to voice their opinions around the first anniversary of an experience that few will be lucky enough to forget.



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