Friday, August 2, 2013

Fela Kuti - Water No Get Enemy (lyrics & comments)

Edited by Azizi Powell

This post showcases the song "Water No Get Enemy" which was composed in 1975 by Fela Kuti. Information about Fela Kuti is also included in this post. Lyrics for this song & comments about this song are also included in this post.

The content of this post is presented for folkloric, cultural, and aesthetic purposes.

All copyrights remain with their owners.

"Fela Kuti (born Olufela Olusegun Oludotun Ransome-Kuti;[1] 15 October 1938 – 2 August 1997) also known as Fela Anikulapo Kuti or simply Fela ([feˈlæ]), was a Nigerian multi-instrumentalist musician and composer, pioneer of Afrobeat music, human rights activist, and political maverick.[2]"

(Fela Kuti)

T'o ba fe lo we omi l'o ma'lo
If you wan to go wash, na water you go use

T'o ba fe se'be omi l'o ma'lo
If you wan cook soup, na water you go use

T'o ri ba n'gbona o omi l'ero re
If your head dey hot, na water go cool am

T'omo ba n'dagba omi l'o ma'lo
If your child dey grow, na water he go use

If water kill your child, na water you go use
T'omi ba p'omo e o omi na lo ma'lo

Ko s'ohun to'le se k'o ma lo'mi o
Nothing without water
Ko s'ohun to'le se k'o ma lo'mi o
Omi o l'ota o

Water, him no get enemy!

Omi o l'ota o
If you fight am, unless you wan die
I say water no get enemy
If you fight am, unless you wan die
Omi o l'ota o
I dey talk of Black man power
I dey talk of Black power, I say
I say water no get enemy
If you fight am, unless you wan die
I say water no get enemy
I say water no get enemy
Omi o l'ota o
Omi o l'ota o
Lyrics submitted by Anarchitect, March 27, 2008
Track duration: 11:01

I believe that "water no get enemy" means that water doesn’t have any enemy because it’s so powerful. To paraphrase the song's lyrics, if you fight against water, you will lose. It also seems to me that by his mention of "black power", Fela Kuti implies that it's just as foolish to fight against black power as it is to fight against the power of water.

In this 2010 post Tavia Nyong'o offers another meaning for this title:
“...I gather that the song featured prominently in the Broadway show Fela! -- "Water No Get Enemy" -- means something like "nobody hates something as useful as water." Make yourself as indispensable as this, goes the implied wisdom, and any detractors you gain will just look silly.”

Here's another comment about this song from Anarchitect
"Water is essential to human life. Only a fool would dare go without it.

Likewise, the people and the body politic are a nation's lifeblood. They populate the land, power the economy, and preserve its culture. Only a foolish government would fight or antagonize its citizens. Trample on your own people, and your nation will die of thirst.

The song was written back in 1975 for Nigeria, but his message is still worth hearing today, no?"

Example #1: Fela Kuti - Water no get enemy

ACghigo, Uploaded on Aug 10, 2010

The Best of the Black President

Example #2: "Water No Get Enemy" from FELA! Original Broadway Cast Recording.

Fela, Uploaded on Jun 24, 2010

"Water No Get Enemy" music video from FELA! on Broadway produced by Jay-Z, Will Smith, Jada Pinkett Smith.

Thanks to Fela Kuti for his musical legacy & his political activism. Thanks also to those who I quoted in this post and thanks to the publishers of this sound file & this video on YouTube.

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Visitor comments are welcome.

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