Noise For Vendor Mouth

Noise For Vendor Mouth

Fela Kuti

€ 27,95
  • LP
Knitting Factory Records, Partisan Records
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Pressed on opaque red vinyl.

The title track likens politicians to street hawkers and hustlers, and caused considerable controversy. So did the B-side, “Mattress,” though for different reasons. In the song, Fela likens a woman’s role to that of a mattress, there to support and comfort her man. Fela’s espousal of traditional gender roles, and his approval of polygamy, struck a discordant note with some listeners, who accused him of being “anti women.” Fela was Fela and a man of his time, but he was never hostile to women. As he often acknowledged, his two greatest political influences were women: his mother, who had been an early champion of women’s rights in Nigeria, and Sandra Izsadore, the black-rights activist he began a relationship with in the US in 1969. Each opened his mind, between them turning a playboy into a political revolutionary.

The Nigerian establishment labelled Kalakuta Republic inhabitants as — ‘hooligans’, ‘hemp smokers’, etc. Noise For Vendor Mouth is Fela’s indifference to that name calling because, for him, people in Kalakuta are really a bunch of hard working citizens, trying to survive in a society riddled with corruption and mismanagement. He adds that the real hooligans are those in authority who resort to political gangsterism, and sometimes military coups in order to resolve constitutional issues. He considers their criticisms as nothing but the noise made by street vendors to sell their wares.

Mattress: Fela has been accused by critics of not being concerned about the issue of feminism and unequal status of the sexes thus keeping in line with several traditions which they claim he arbitrarily upholds. Several issues, from the African point of view, are counterpoise to Western modern look. Take polygamy, Fela has been criticized for openly endorsing polygamy. How could a man who campaigns against the unequal status of sexes and racism, endorse a male domination. Fela’s justification for polygamy, apart from the traditional repopulation from slavery of Africa’s society, is the polygamous nature of man. Man is polygamous by nature. In Christian societies, where polygamy is not tolerated, men marry officially with one woman but keep mistresses. African men are more honest in their approach—keeping all the women in the know and under one roof in the spirit of family. Songs like Mattress may not help change Fela’s ‘macho’ image, but he is just making comparisons. ‘…mattress! Anything wey we dey sleep on top! Call am for me! Mattress…’. ‘e be mat! E be spring! E be bed! E be cushion! Mattress! Mattress!’.



  • 1.Noise For Vendor Mouth


  • 2.Mattress


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