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Friday, October 13, 2017

Fela Kuti- "Shakara" (Oloje) : information, sound file, & lyrics with some explanations

Edited by Azizi Powell

This pancocojams post showcases a sound file of Nigerian musician, singer, composer, pioneer of the Afrobeat music genre, and human rights activist Fela Kuti's hit 1972 song "Shakara".

Information about Fela Kuti and information about the song "Shakara" are included in this post. Lyrics to this song are also included in this post along with some explanations about these lyrics that I gleaned from various internet websites and from Google translate.

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

All copyrights remain with their owners.

Thanks to Fela Kuti for his musical legacy. Thanks to all those who are quoted in this post and thanks to the publisher of this video on YouTube.
-snip-
Click http://pancocojams.blogspot.com/2017/10/various-examples-of-nigerian-pidgin.html for a pancoocjams post entitled "Various Examples Of The Nigerian Pidgin English Terms "Shakara" & "Do Shakara" ".

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DISCLAIMER:
I'm an African American who is interested in language usage and other aspects of African cultures and other cultures of the African Diaspora. I'm not a linguist.

I've gleaned information about Nigerian Pidgin English from reading various online articles and YouTube discussion threads. For the most part, I've cited online definitions for these terms and phrases, but in a few cases, I've also shared my guesses about possible meanings (admittedly from the standpoint of someone outside of Nigerian and West African cultures.

Additions and corrections are very welcome.

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INFORMATION ABOUT FELA KUTI
https://www.biography.com/people/fela-kuti-21215355
"Songwriter, Pianist, Civil Rights Activist, Drummer(1938–1997)

...Synopsis
Fela Kuti was born on October 15, 1938, in Abeokuta, Nigeria. Beginning in the 1960s, Kuti pioneered his own unique style of music called "Afrobeat." Rebelling against oppressive regimes through his music came at a heavy cost. Kuti was arrested 200 times and endured numerous beatings, but continued to write political lyrics, producing 50 albums before he died on August 2, 1997, in Lagos, Nigeria.

Early Years

Musician and political activist Fela Kuti was born Olufela Olusegun Oludotun Ransome-Kuti on October 15, 1938, in Abeokuta, Nigeria. Kuti was the son of a Protestant minister, Reverend Ransome-Kuti. His mother, Funmilayo, was a political activist.

As a child, Kuti learned piano and drums, and led his school choir. In the 1950s, Kuti told his parents that he was moving to London, England, to study medicine, but wound up attending the Trinity College of Music instead. While at Trinity, Kuti studied classical music and developed an awareness of American jazz.

Activism Through Music

In 1963, Kuti formed a band called Koola Lobitos. He would later change the band's name to Afrika 70, and again to Egypt 80. Beginning in the 1960s, Kuti pioneered and popularized his own unique style of music called "Afrobeat." Afrobeat is a combination of funk, jazz, salsa, Calypso and traditional Nigerian Yoruba music. In addition to their distinctive mixed-genre style, Kuti's songs were considered unique in comparison to more commercially popular songs due to their length—ranging anywhere from 15 minutes to an hour long. Kuti sang in a combination of Pidgin English and Yoruba.

[...]

Rebelling against oppressive regimes through his music came at a heavy cost to Kuti, who was arrested by the Nigerian government 200 times, and was subject to numerous beatings that left him with lifelong scars. Rather than abandon his cause, however, Kuti used these experiences as inspiration to write more lyrics. He produced roughly 50 albums over the course of his musical career, including songs for Les Negresses under the pseudonym Sodi in 1992."...

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INFORMATION ABOUT FELA KUTI'S SONG "SHAKARA"
From https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shakara_(album)
"Shakara is an album by Nigerian Afrobeat composer, bandleader, and multi-instrumentalist Fela Kuti recorded in Lagos in 1971 and originally released [in 1972] on the Nigerian EMI label.[1]
Reception

The Allmusic review awarded the album 4½ stars, commenting: "Kuti was highly eclectic, and his innovative, visionary music contained elements of funk/soul, jazz, and blues, as well as African music. That eclectic spirit proves to be a major asset on Shakara, which consists of two 13-minute performances by Kuti's
Africa 70 band".[2]

[...]

Track listing
All compositions by Fela Kuti
"Lady" - 13:47
"Shakara (Oloje)" - 13:26

[...}

Genre Afrobeat
Released 1972
Recorded 1972 in Lagos, Nigeria
Studio album by Fela Ransome-Kuti and the Africa '70” "

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From https://www.allmusic.com/album/shakara-mw0000951377
"AllMusic Review by Alex Henderson

Fela Kuti was often described as "the James Brown of Africa," but one could also argue that he was Africa's equivalent of Miles Davis or John Coltrane. Truth be told, either description is valid. Kuti was highly eclectic, and his innovative, visionary music contained elements of funk/soul, jazz, and blues, as well as African music. That eclectic spirit proves to be a major asset on Shakara, which consists of two 13-minute performances by Kuti's Africa 70 band: "Lady" and "Shakara (Oloie)." Performed in English, "Lady" finds Kuti criticizing modern African women in a humorous way for becoming what he sees as overly westernized and embracing a western view of feminism. You might agree or disagree with the song's viewpoint, but the groove and the beat are irresistible. Equally addictive -- and equally sarcastic -- is "Shakara (Oloje)," which is sung in both Yoruba and English and makes fun of the type of pompous, loud-mouthed braggarts who can never make good on their empty boasts."

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SHOWCASE VIDEO Fela Kuti - Shakara



Fela Kuti, Published on Apr 11, 2013
-snip-
As of the date and time of this publication in this pancocojams blog [October 13, 2017; 5:43 PM EDT] , this YouTube sound file has a total number of 689,889 views and total number of 250 comments.

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LYRICS- SHAKARA
(written by Fela Kuti)

To ba b'oni sakara pade
Pasan to ma fi na e oje l'o nje
Kini won se npe o
Shakara oloje ni

Shakara oloje ni

Shakara oloje ni o

We get the Shakara man
We get the Shakara woman
Shakara man, him go say
"I go beat you, I go nearly kill you"

Na Shakara, I go beat you
Go beat am and get accident
Na Shakara

You no know me, na Shakara
Wait make I commot my dress
Na Shakara

You see, even if you do nothing
Na Shakara oloje
We get a song for that
We go sing am like this, we go sing
Ah, ah, ah ni, ah ni, ah ni

Ma kan na e, ma kan na e pa
Iwo ke, oti mo mi ni
To ba to ko duro de mi o

Duro de mi ki'nbo so mi
Wa je baba nla iya iro ni o ko le ja
Oje lo nyo, kini won se npe o

Shakara oloje ni

Shakara oloje ni o

The Shakara woman
Tell her I say, "My dear I like you"
She go say, "E like you, who you like?"

Come on jare, look at this man
Why you come from self?
I be near you, no touch me o

Ah, you see, she wan you
Na Shakara
We call am Shakara oloje

We get a song for that
We sing am like this, we go sing
Ah, ah, ah ni, ah ni, ah ni

To ba f'owo kan mi
To ba f'owo kan mi
Jowo fi mi sile, tabi ki lo nse e
O m'egbe ni, nibo loti jawa

Nibo loti jawa
Nibo loti jawa to lokun lorun
Emi pelu re ko
Iro ni o, o fe se o oje lon'yo
Kini won se npe o

Shakara oloje ni

Shakara oloje ni o

Source: https://genius.com/Fela-kuti-shakara-lyrics

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ATTEMPTED EXPLANATIONS FOR THE LYRICS FOR FELA KUTI'S SONG "SHAKARA"
The lyrics for Fela Kuti's song "Shakara" are in Yoruba, English, and Nigerian Pidgin English.

The Google translate feature doesn't have any option for Nigerian Pidgin English. However, here are the results for the words that I believe are Yoruba in that song:

GOOGLE TRANSLATE'S YORUBA TO ENGLISH RESULTS FOR FELA KUTI'S SONG "SHAKARA"
To ba b'oni sakara pade
Pasan to ma fi na e oje l'o nje
Kini won se npe o

Google translation from Yoruba to English

To provide free training
It's a bit worth it
What they called it

**
Ma kan na e, ma kan na e pa
Iwo ke, oti mo mi ni
To ba to ko duro de mi o

Google translation from Yoruba to English

Just one of you, and just hit me
You are, it is for me
So you're not waiting for me

**
To ba f'owo kan mi
To ba f'owo kan mi
Jowo fi mi sile, tabi ki lo nse e
O m'egbe ni, nibo loti jawa

Google translation from Yoruba to English

It does not matter to me
It does not matter to me
Please leave me, or do it
It's my mom, where he's talking

**
Nibo loti jawa
Nibo loti jawa to lokun lorun
Emi pelu re ko
Iro ni o, o fe se o oje lon'yo
Kini won se npe o

Google translation from Yoruba to English

Where is it?
Where is he then tired?
I am not with him
It's fake, you wanna make it juice
What they called it

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NIGERIAN PIDGIN ENGLISH DEFINITIONS FOR LYRICS IN FELA KUTI'S SONG "SHAKARA"
[slightly revised October 14, 2017]

Google translate has no option for Nigerian Pidgin English translation to English (or to any other language). Consequently, its translations for Nigerian Pidgin English words and phrases are likely to be wrong. I know that understanding the verses to Fela Kuti's song "Shakara" won't be accomplished only by looking up online results for Nigerian Pidgin English words and phrases in Google translate or elsewhere. However, as we say in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania "it beats a blank" (i.e. it's better than nothing).

Since I don't know Yoruba or Nigerian Pidgin English I've mostly refrained from guessing about any meanings for these words and these verses*. I hope that people who know these languages will share information about these words and verses. Thanks in advance!

*My comments below after the Google translation definition for "shakara oloje ni" and the online definition for the word "commot" are exceptions to this statement.

Shakara
Here's a comment about the meaning of the word "shakara" that was written in the YouTube discussion thread for the sound file for Fela Kuti's song "Shakara" which is embedded in this pancocojams:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vvYxd35xFx8
Oyaator Bhoy, 2016
"Shakara is a Anglophone-West Africa word used for describing when one person is displaying "rhetorical bravado" to scare someone else. In the song, he refers to two examples of Shakara. (1) A man threatening to fight and beat him up in the streets and (2) a woman he is trying to woo telling him off that he is not good enough for her. He labelled it "Shakara Oloje", which in proper English means "It is a Shakara trick". The man, Fela claims cannot fight, he just wants to threaten and hopes he (i.e. Fela) runs. The woman, he claims she wants it but she is just feigning chastity and superiority."

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Here's a definition for the Nigerian Pidgin English word "shakara" that is found on http://www.urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=Shakara
"Shakara
To show off. Word derived from a popular Fela Kuti song titled "Shakara Olu Oje". Commonly used amongst Nigerian youth.
sucks teeth- Ibeyemi waitin de shakara for now.

trans from pidgin English: Ibeyemi, why are you showing off?
by Naija girl June 17, 2005
-snip-
trans= translation

Although I believed that most Google translate results for Nigerian Pidgin English words would be incorrect, I decided to search Yoruba to English translations results for the phrase "shakara oloje ni" and "shakara oloje ni o".
The Google translate results that I always got for these words were "It's cool".

However, Google translate from Yoruba to English gives this result for the Yoruba to English translation for these words by themselves:
"shakara" = "shade"

"oloje" = "drunk"

"ni "= yes

Note below that the letter "o" is an intensifier that emphasizes (i.e. strengthens what was said or written before it).

Recall that commenter Oyaator Bhoywho who was previously quoted in this post translated "oloje" as "trick". However, I believe (admittedly as an outsider looking in since I don't know either Yoruba or Nigerian Pidgin English) that Fela Kuti added the word "oloje") in parenthesis in the title of this song because "oloje" means the same thing as "shakara" (at least in the context of this song). My guess is that "oloje" as an alternative title and in the lyrics themselves ("shakara oloje ni) means "[she] is going crazy" or "[she] is going ballistic"* and my guess is that "shakara oloje o" means to [she] is really go crazy (or going "ballistic"). However, instead of "going shakara, it appears from what I've read online that Nigerians say "doing shakara"**

As a result of these speculations, here's my translation for these lyrics from Fela's song "Shakara"
"You see, even if you do nothing
Na Shakara oloje"
-snip-
"You see, even if you do nothing
[She'll] go crazy [or "go ballistic"]."
-snip-
A common way for African Americans to say "go ballistics" is "go off on you". That's what I think "do shakara" or "oloje" means in the context of this song and in some other Nigerian usages that I've found online. However, "do shakara" in the 2016 Nigerian religious song "Victory" by Eben has a different meaning. Click http://pancocojams.blogspot.com/2017/10/nigerian-gospel-singer-eben-victory.html for a pancocojams post on this Nigerian Praise song.

As a result of my online research for this post, I've found other material about the word "shakara" which I've decided to publish ASAP in its own pancocojams post. The link to that post will be added here.

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Here are three other Nigerian Pidgin English words in Fela Kuti's song "Shakara":
Na
http://www.naijalingo.com/words/na
"Definition: (It) is. Used to describe something being something else. Depending on tone, can also be used in an interrogative sort of way. Example: -Dis one na gobe! (This is trouble!) - Na you wey wan come start wahala for my domot yesterday abi? (So, you're the one who wanted to start trouble in my area yesterday right?)

Synonyms: Be, To Be, It Is
"

**
Commot
https://theculturetrip.com/africa/nigeria/articles/15-nigerian-pidgin-english-phrases-you-need-to-know/
"Commot/Vamoose

Commot is an ellision of the words come and out, and is used to mean ‘leave’ or ‘get lost’, again depending on context. To strengthen the point (when trying to get rid of someone), you can add an abeg (before) and/or jaré (after) to strengthen the effect and say: abeg commot jaré! Vamoose, the less common variant, is another derivation from Portuguese."
-snip-
While "leave" or "get lost" may be the usual meaning for "commot", I think that word has another meaning in Fela's song "Shakara".

My sense is that the words "You no know me, na Shakara/ Wait make I commot my dress 'Na Shakara" are spoken by the female who is the focus of this song.

My "translation for these words in standard English is:
"You don't know me. [meaning "You don't know who I am." i.e. "You don't know what I'm like."] I'm Shakara. Don't make me come out of my dress. I'm Shakara."
-snip-
Although I'm Shakara sounds like it's a female's name, I think that the woman is saying something like "Don't mess with me 'cause I'm a crazy woman". in some urban Black American communities a woman or man might say "Don't mess with me (or "Don't try me") 'cause I'll go crazy on your ass"; or "I'll go off on you.

I don't know whether the woman in the song who was "doing Shakara" was really going to take off her dress [so that she would be less restricted in her movements in a fight]. As an alternative, "taking off her dress" might have been a figure of speech signaling that she was "fixin' to fight (i.e. mentally and emotionally getting ready to fight").

*going ballistic (went ballistic) is an informal English verb phrase that means to suddenly become irrationally angry and behave in destructive ways toward someone else (or others, or something/s) in ways that society considers very inappropriate. The word "ballistic" refers to a ballistic missile.

**
Jare
https://buzznigeria.com/common-nigerian-words-used-in-place-of-some-english-equivalents/
"Jare is an "I don't care word that is used in similar scenarios ass joor. It is a Yoruba word.
-snip-
Here's some information about the word "joor" from that same page:
"This word seems to lack a substitute. It usually portrays some kind of aggression or anger when used and can be used playfully depending on the tone of voice. "Leave me alone, joor". The ambiguous word can also mean please and is derived from the Yoruba word ejor.
The bold font is found in the original dictionary entry.

**
In addition to those word, Kuti's song "Shakara" also includes the Yoruba and Nigerian English custom of placing the letter "o" after a particular word or at the end of a sentence.

The "o" is an intensifier that emphasizes the word that was written before it or that entire sentence. A statement about that custom is found in this definition of the Nigerian Pidgin English phrase "Nawa oh!" (which I've also found online as "nawao", na wa o", "na wa", "wao", "waooo", and other similar forms).
https://buzznigeria.com/common-nigerian-words-used-in-place-of-some-english-equivalents/
"Nawa o
This is an expression of surprise, similar to ‘wow’. The ‘oh’ ending is a kind of conversational tick that gets added to lots of words and phrases to add emphasis.

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