Tag Archives: Nigeria

Grooving Through 1980s Lagos and Livy Ekemezie’s “Friday Night”


Livy Ekemezie

Throughout the 1970s, Nigeria’s population healed from the trauma of a bloody civil war in local nightclubs and dancehalls. The gritty axe lines, dirty amps and fiery psychedelia of afro-rock pathfinders like The Funkees, Blo and Monomono sounded like both the end of the world and the crack and boom of a nation rising from the ashes. Still, there was one question these bands could never answer: how do you strut your stuff like Rick James?

By the 1980s, Nigeria’s music scene was recast. Oil-fueled economic growth, coupled with a relatively stable democratic government following a series of dictatorships, altered the nation’s DNA. The youth had cash in their pockets, and style was a priority. The crackle and pop of VHS technology brought slick new music video-ready outfits. Out went the bellbottoms; in came the leather jackets, sharp suits and Michael Jackson curls.

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Moving To The Beat: The Rise And Fall of The Funkees

The Funkees
The Funkees. Photo by Kartel Music Group

African soul band The Funkees first took the stage in the besieged town of Nkwerre in Nigeria, during the final days of the Nigerian Civil War. Performing at Durumbu Hall in January 1970, the group’s music drowned out the sound of advancing federal forces. With terror on the horizon, locals danced away their last night on Earth.

The military assault was among the final fires in a conflict that broke out toward the end of the 1960s, as the aspirant state of Biafra sought to secede from the rest of Nigeria. The country’s borders had been sketched out by white Europeans with a pencil and a map. Few paid attention to those living in the aftermath.

Biafra represented the nationalist aspirations of the Igbo population in the east, but the breakaway led to a humanitarian disaster. Civilians starved. It was a war the Washington Post in July 1969 described with one word: Genocide.

“It is ugly and extreme, but it is the only word which fits Nigeria’s decision to stop the International Committee of the Red Cross, and other relief agencies, from flying food to Biafra,” the newspaper wrote.

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