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Okayafrica TV: Tony Allen And The Genesis of Afrobeat

Afrobeat's co-founder and percussion father Tony Allen sits down with Okayafrica to discuss James Brown, Fela Kuti, and his start in music.


Today we honor the afrobeat creator, on what would have been his 76th birthday, with Felabrations around the world. Yesterday Fela's afrobeat co-founder and longtime drummer, Tony Allen, celebrated the release of his tenth studio album. Film Of Life, produced by French trio The Jazzbastards and featuring appearances from Damon Albarn, Nigerian singer Kuku and Nigerian all-female folk singing group Adunni & Nefertiti, is a ten-track self portrait of the Nigerian percussion pioneer through incursions into bebop, psychedelic pop and, of course, afrobeat. Allen, who has been touring in support of his new album, was recently in New York City, where he hit the studio to lay down his parts for a new project with Antibalas drummer and EMEFE bandleader Miles Arntzen. Okayafrica TV caught up with Allen at Brooklyn's Daptone Studios to discuss his start in music, Fela Kuti and the beginning of afrobeat, and the influence of James Brown on the continent. Watch the latest episode of OKATV below. Tony Allen's Film Of Life is out now via Jazz Village.

Video by: Sean Phazes

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Photo by NurPhoto via Getty Images.

A Year After #EndSARS, Nigerian Youth Maintain That Nothing Has Changed

Despite the disbandment of the SARS units, young Nigerians are still being treated as criminals. We talk to several of them about their experiences since the #EndSARS protests.

On September 12th, Tobe, a 22-year-old student at the University of Nigeria's Enugu Campus was on his way to Shoprite to hang out with his friends when the tricycle he had boarded was stopped by policemen. At first, Tobe thought they were about to check the driver's documents, but he was wrong. "An officer told me to come down, he started searching me like I was a criminal and told me to pull down my trousers, I was so scared that my mind was racing in different ways, I wasn't wearing anything flashy nor did I have an iPhone or dreads — things they would use to describe me as a yahoo boy," he says.

They couldn't find anything on him and when he tried to defend himself, claiming he had rights, one of the police officers slapped him. "I fell to the ground sobbing but they dragged me by the waist and took me to their van where they collected everything including my phone and the 8,000 Naira I was with."

Luckily for Tobe, they let him go free after 2 hours. "They set me free because they caught another pack of boys who were in a Venza car, but they didn't give me my money completely, they gave me 2,000 Naira for my transport," he says.

It's no news that thousands of Nigerian youth have witnessed incidents like Tobe's — many more worse than his. It's this helpless and seemingly unsolvable situation which prompted the #EndSARS protests. Sparked after a viral video of a man who was shot just because he was driving an SUV and was mistaken as a yahoo boy, the #EndSARS protests saw millions of young Nigerians across several states of the country come out of their homes and march against a system has killed unfathomable numbers of people for invalid or plain stupid reasons. The protests started on October 6th, 2020 and came to a seize after a tragedy struck on October 20th of the same year.

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