TATAFO GIST: 10 words made popular by late Afrobeat legend “FELA”

The legendary Afrobeat musician, Fela Anikulapo Kuti remains one of the few Nigerian musicians, whose legend lives years after he passed away.

The controversial songwriter, composer, comedian and performer ruled the Nigerian entertainment scene for several years, hitherto became a constant feature in the country’s polity and state.

To suit his biddings and appeal to his numerous fans while taking on the government – mostly the military rulers – Fela coined, rejigged, and rephrased words that have today became more popular as a result of the singer’s constant usage.

Listed are words commonly used by the citizenry but which we owe to the King of Afrobeat!

Though the list is an endless one, Pulse brings to your reading pleasure 10 words made popular by the late Afrobeat legend.

*Go Slow

This is a word coined from what the English dictionary refers to as Traffic Jam i.e a long line of vehicles on a road that cannot move or that can only move very slowly.  Go Slow became popular on the streets in Nigeria after the Fela’s 1972 song, Go Slow, which satirise the infrastructural chaos of modern Nigeria.

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*Follow Follow

This simply refers to individuals with no mind of his or her own but prefer to follow the crowd. Interestingly, Follow Follow is a track released in 1976 by Fela, to lampoon the lack of imagination of the Nigerian middle class.

*Shuffering and Smiling

As the legendary musician would like to puts it, Shuffering and Shmiling tells the activities of many Nigerians who in this state of deprivation, are yet unaware of their plight and continue to suffer in oblivion.

*Roforofo Fight

Any fight that goes messy like is termed Roforofo Fight and this was made popular by Fela in a track from his 1972 album. The phrase was made more popular by Newspaper editors, who gladly use the phrase when there are troubles in any of the government arms or between popular socialites.


Zombie is the name given to any individual who obeys before complain and follows orders from above blindly. The word was made popular on the Nigerian streets by Fela after he used the word in a track entitled Zombie to describe Nigeria soldiers’ mentality and brutality to fellow humans like them.

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The word Oyinbo has been a regular parlance in the Nigerian western and South Eastern states to describe a white man or any persons with light pigmentation. Again, the word was put to effective use and made more popular by Abami Eda in the 1975 track Mr Grammartologylisationalism Is the Boss.


Shakara Oloje, as used severally by Fela, is an act of feigning an offensive mood and according to the late Fela, who popularized among the populace, the word was “a Mushin word but it was not popular…I made it popular through my records. …When I want to write lyrics, I think about my environment, I think about catchy words, words that can easily be identified with society”.

*Yellow Fever

The term Yellow Fever is actually a word for an acute viral haemorrhagic disease transmitted by infected mosquitoes. But in 1976, the phrase, which was commonly used by people in Mushin to describe traffic wardens, was re-christened and made more popular in a track by Fela, who was decided to refer to skin bleaching people as Yellow Fever.

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*Area Boy

Not many knew that late Fela’s disagreement and battles were not limited to Nigerian police and army but also with neighbourhood gangs, the boys in the area, where he lived. Area Boys was borne out of the need to distinguish between residents of Fela’s Kalakuta Republic and rascals living around the area where the Kalakuta was situated.

*Chop and Clean Mouth

Another title of one of Fela’s unreleased songs, Chop and Clean Mouth became popular among the citizenry when describing an act of getting away with corrupt practices or illegality.