Music has no definite definition it’s just the perspective from which it is seen. While some scholars argue it is an artful arrangement of sound over time, others argue that it is a form of mental image and sounds are mere by product of this mental image. Today, Afro music has become one of the most popular music accepted by both the old and young. It is a music genre, which is used in passing series of messages in peace, love and justice. It is also a brand of music which is entertainment oriented. There is a lot of controversy about its origin. The national anthem that takes us down memory lane of our political history pays its respect to music. This study was therefore motivated in a quest to determine if music has actually affected political and social development especially in Nigeria. Primary data were generated from key respondent drawn by means of convenience and random sampling methods from people with links to the Nigerian music industry and links to musicians who were involved in one way or the other in politics. Tested hypothesis shows that music has and can affect political and social development. This study confirms that music could actually do more in political and social development if more musicians pay more heed to societal issues in the country and care less about fame and wealth.



Title Page                                                                                                                 i

Certification                                                                                                              ii

Dedication                                                                                                                 iii

Acknowledgement                                                                                                   iv

Abstract                                                                                                                     v

Table of Content                                                                                                      vi

Chapter One: Introduction                                                                                  

  • Background of the Study
  • Statement of the Problem
  • Purpose of the Study
  • Significance of the Study
  • Research Question
  • Scope and Limitations of the Study
  • Definition of Terms

Chapter Two: Literature Review

  • Music and Political Activision
  • Effects of Music in the Society
  • Instruments in African Music
  • Theoretical Framework
  • Case Study: Fela Anikulapo Kuti’s Afro Beat-History of Afro beat in


  • Ideology and Philosophy behind Fela’s Afro Beat
  • Afro Centrism
  • Relevance of Fela’s Ideology to the Study

Chapter Three: Research Methodology, Data Presentation and Analysis

  • Research Design
  • Population of Study
  • Sample Size
  • Sampling Method
  • Sources of Data
  • Validity of the Measuring Instrument
  • Reliability of the Measuring Instrument
  • Method of Data Collection
  • Method of Data Analysis

Chapter Four: Analysis of Population Background Information                  

  • Analysis of Data
  • Testing of Hypothesis

Chapter Five: Summary, Conclusion and Recommendation

  • Summary
  • Conclusion
  • Recommendation







When we look around us, we see a lot of things that relate to art, ranging from music to literature, film, photography, sculpture, and paintings, it encompasses our reality. In simplistic terms, art refers to the product or process of deliberately arranging symbolic elements in a way that influences and affects one or more of the senses, emotions, and intellect. Traditionally, the term art was used to refer to any skill or mastery. This conception changed during the Romantic period, when art came to be seen as a special faculty of the human mind to be classified with religion and science generally, art is made with the intention of stimulating thoughts and emotions. It has been defined as a vehicle for the expression or communication of emotions and ideas, a means for exploring and appreciating. Tolstoy (1987) identified art as a use of indirect means to communicate from one person to another. Croce and Collingwood (1993) advanced the idealist view that art expresses emotions and that the work of art therefore essentially exists in the mind of the creator. Art as mimesis or representation has deep roots in the philosophy of Aristotle.

A major usage of art is to portray ideas such as in politically, spiritually, or philosophical way, but however, it can also be used to show meaning, Like People can use art to show love, to show boredom and to show creativity. Art can also be used to liven things up. It may not have a specific idea or meaning but it can be used to make things look better and more complete. Art is also a great tool for learning; it is fun and acts as an interactive tool for reluctant learners and younger students. Many people depend on it as it has become a relevant source of lively hood. Art can show the passage of time, It also acts as a great thinking agent. Art can also be used to criticize some aspect of the society. It is often utilized as a form of propaganda and thus can be used to subtly influence popular conception or mood. Lastly, art connects people around the world. (Chin, 1999).

Art has been used variously for political representations all over the world, ranging from the works of Amiri Baraka, an American playwright, poet, and political activist with plays like The Slave (1964), which dealt with the corrosive effects of racism, Breyten Breytenbach, a South African writer, painter, and political activist, André Brink, also a South African writer and political activist with his best-known book, A Dry White Season (1979), Shirin Ebadi, an Iranian lawyer, activist, writer, and winner of the 2003 Nobel Peace Prize for her efforts to advance democracy and human rights in Iran with books like The Rights of the Child: A Study of Legal Aspects of Children’s Rights in Iran (1994) and History and Documentation of Human Rights in Iran (2000),  Ebrahim Hussein, a Tanzanian playwright who produced plays in Swahili, such as Kinjeketile (1970), which focused on the ideological struggle for a just society. Also Ngugi wa Thiong’o and Ngugi wa Miri in Kenya produced I Will Marry When I Want (1977), The play focuses on indigenous exploitation and was performed in Kikuyu by and for the villagers in a theater they built. Nigerian playwrights of the 1970s also produced plays that were more specifically concerned with the social and moral effects of dictatorship. Bode Sowande explores the themes of corruption and exploitation in Afamako—The Workhorse (1978) and Flamingoes (1982). Babafemi Osofisan deploys Brechtian alienation effects as well as storytelling and role-playing to introduce revolutionary potential into plots based on traditions or legends: The Chattering and the Song (1977) and Esu and the Vagabond Minstrels (1991), Femi Osofisan’s Once Upon Four Robbers (1980) bases its political commentary on the government’s practice of publicly executing armed robbers, Soyinka’s A Play of Giants (1984) ridicules Africa’s flamboyant dictators. These among several others exist in Nigeria, Africa, and the world at large.

Music is a form of art whose medium is sound. The word derives from Greek (art) of the Muses. The interaction with sound is unavoidable, either to make it or take pleasure in it. People have always found music significant in their lives, whether for enjoyment in listening, the emotional response, performing, or creating. This is no different for classical music or contemporary concert music. Both forms of music have immense worth for our society. Music is part of virtually every culture on Earth, but it varies widely among cultures in style and structure. Definitions of music can change dramatically over a short time, as they have across the world during the 20th century. in Gilbert Galindo, view (2003)

“The role of arts and music in our society fill a void that we all need in order to enrich ourselves and our culture, they provide alternate infinite experiences, and they also further enhance the skills we use in other disciplines and professions. Recently, the arts have been sneaking into mainstream culture and gaining the attention of viewers, through shows like “So You Think You Can Dance,” or “The Colbert Report” with references to living composers such as Steve Reich or guests from the jazz and classical world (Wynton Marsalis and Alex Ross).”

Just like the discipline, Political Science, music has no definite definition it’s just the perspective from which it is seen. While some scholars argue it is an artful arrangement of sound over time, others argue that it is a form of mental image and sounds which are simply bye product of a mental image. However, politics and music have a lot in common and have come a long way hand in hand. Right from the days  of  classical music during the periods of Alexandra the great and when religion was seen as the basis for the conduct of human activity down to the era of hip hop and democracy, music has always been useful politically.

In recent times, musicians and song writers over the world have put their talents to serve social causes, to express political statements, to voice the plight of the repressed. In America, the sixties saw the coining of the phrase “protest song,” as Bob Dylan, Joan Baez and a plethora of author artists were protesting the Vietnam War. “A Hard Rain Is Gonna Fall” they said, and it did. Woodstock wasn’t far away, neither was Jimi Hendrix’ warped rendition of the U.S. national anthem, reflecting what he thought of his country then. Just about at the same time, a dilettante John Lennon was singing “Happiness is a warm gun.” Little did he know then that on a cold December night, the warmth of a gun would take his life. In the Caribbean, drenched in sun and music, the Jamaican reggae cum rasta phenomenon propelled Micheal Manley to power. He was replaced after a while, but not before Jimmy Cliff and Bob Marley had time to spread the “Stand up for your rights” philosophy. (Jean-Pierre Cloutier 1987). Others include Denver john, Luigi Nono (1924-1990), an Italian composer, Quaker, Bonnie Raitt who championed social causes and has worked for victims of political persecution in Latin American countries, U2, an Irish rock music band, which achieved worldwide popularity during the 1980s and 1990s. they subsequently grew famous for its commitment to political causes, including prominent support for international human rights. The band’s 1988 release, Rattle and Hum was marked by uncharacteristic explorations of folk music and blues.

Coming down to Nigeria, afro-beat’s Fela Anikulapo Kuti remains a central figure in rhythmic opposition, especially since the aborted Third Republic. Rhythmic opposition has witnessed a rise in the number of stars, among which are Wasiu Ayinde, Eedris Abdul-karim, Tuface Idiabia, 9ice, and Asa, among others, that have embraced rhythmic opposition particularly on issues of corruption, mismanagement, and other areas of government failures. (Tobi Oshodi, 2010).

Music is the medium that connects the written word to social rights issues, conveying a message of hope for the audience. Music is a form of freedom and expression, often used to evoke political issues, serving as an advocator, campaigner and inspirer of social justice. Melodies and lyrics that seek justice amid and beyond cities and nations, into the global realm, have marked significant eras in history and the fight for freedom and tolerance.

More than than 70 percent of Nigerians live in poverty; life expectancy is less than 54 years; infant mortality and maternal mortality are around 77 per 1,000 & 704 per 100,000 respectively; only about 10 percent of the population had access to essential drugs; fewer than 30 physicians per 100,000 people; more than 5 million adults living with HIV/AIDS; among children under 5, almost 30 percent were underweight while only 17 percent of children were fully immunized; the 1999 UN Human Development Index placed Nigeria 146th in a survey of 174; only about half the population had access to drinking water (40 percent in rural areas, 80 percent in urban areas); some 29 percent of the total population lived at risk of annual floods; more than 90 percent of the rural population depended on forests for livelihood and domestic energy sources; rural households spent an average of 1.5 hours a day collecting water and fuel wood, with an average of one kilometre a day to collect water and fuel wood; insecurity is not only captured by the inability of the state to ensure reduction in armed robbery but unnecessary ethno-religious conflicts have continued to lead to the loss of innocent lives at predictable and unpredictable intervals; among others other paradox of underdevelopment (Obadina, 1999: 8; Ajakaiye and Olomola, 2003; Federal Government, 2005: 28-30; Ojo, 2006: 120; Oshodi, 2009a and 2009b). Meanwhile, elected politicians manage to allocate and pass allowances for travels running into millions.  These and many more are the issues that comprise Nigeria’s economic and political scène and this calls for alarm. With the country as a whole at stake, one cannot help but wonder what the masses of the people are doing to curb the advert effect of the situation. However, with military domination of the political system for a longer time than civil rule (the military has dominated the political scene for thirty years leaving the politicians with twenty years of civil rule), the peoples voices have been killed and the morale for opposition is at a very minimal level.

Political activism however is much more than turning out on voting day and ticking a ballot sheet. That is far too passive and ineffective, and will never be enough to halt the current erosion of community and the destruction of our planet. Instead, to become a bona fide activist, we have to do much more, we have to have such a burning desire to make a difference that we are willing to embody the solution in ourselves, without only resorting to the all too easy recourse of vilifying politicians, governments and/or multinationals (although it is important to first identify the problem step in trying to find a solution). To embody the solution takes courage, commitment and a deep understanding of the power of our minds. (Andrew, 2003).

The forms of reaction that have existed in Nigeria ranges from leakages to the press in form of propaganda, rally’s, protest walks which involves the carrying of banners, strikes, kidnapping like in the Niger Delta, women protesting naked as Mimiko urged women to Protest Naked against corruption in October 2010, lobbying with international organizations and external government like Ken Sarowiwa, sabotage, arson;  like destruction of government property, riots and even dialogue, Example was in 2004 when Asari Dokubo president of the Ijaw Youth Council (IJC) dialogued with the then Nigerian president, Olusegun Obasanjo of which he was arrested. All this has obviously not worked to its maximum capacity. Taking the Niger Delta kidnapping for instance, the resolution of the case lead to the vague so called amnesty of which still, those peoples request have not been granted. The ASUU strike is another example. It keeps happening and happening all over again and the peoples cries are not still answered. Rather, they are told to resume back and they keep postponing all their request till another strike comes up again. In many other cases, the activist are either arrested or killed.

A true activist first of all must however acknowledge the power of mind. There is no other road to healing; consciousness must be fundamental. In the process of doing this he or she realizes that the root cause of the ecological destruction and social injustices in the world are not “out there” but “in here”… in our own minds, and it is therefore “in here” that we must start the healing process. (Andrew, 2003). This is where music comes to play, the emotional response, performing, or creating, a form of mental image and sounds are mere by product of this mental image. Music deals largely with the mind either from the position of creating it or from the position of receiving it, its messages are delivered straight to the mind that sooner or later becomes a part of your subconscious probably unknowingly to you.

“Another key to the order in music is the music being the same and different. The brain works by looking at different pieces of information and deciding if they are different or the same. This is done in music of the baroque and classical periods by playing a theme and then repeating or changing the theme. The repetition is only done once. More than one repetition causes the music to become displeasing, and also causes a person to either enter a state of sub-conscious thinking or a state of anger. Dr. Ballam [NOTE: Write year] goes on to say that, “The human mind shuts down after three or four repetitions of a rhythm, or a melody, or a harmonic progression.” Furthermore, excessive repetition causes people to release control of their thoughts. Rhythmic repetition is used by people who are trying to push certain ethics in their music.” (O’Donnell, 1999)

This and so much more are the powers of music.

Fela’s ideology is a “matrix” of radical black nationalism which opened out to a much more expansive Pan-Africanism and Afro-centrism and a sturdy partisanship for the oppressed lower classes that could be described as socialist in orientation and an irrepressible libertarianism that frequently tries to be the anchor and articulator of the other two. Fela’s solidarity with the oppressed lower classes was complete. He lived in their midst, trumpeted their sounds to national attention, experienced their brutalization at the hands of official lawlessness, and even shared their poverty.(Olaniyan , 1977). Recalling for me Albert Memmi’s notion of class suicide. Olaniyan also offers this aspect of Fela who is not born into the oppressed lower classes as consummate an example of class suicide as we can get in the world of actual struggle. The musical style performed by Fela Kuti is called Afro-Beat, which is essentially a fusion of jazz, funk, psychedelic rock, and traditional West African chants and rhythms. As Iwedi Ojinmah points out in his Article “Baba is Dead – Long Live Baba,” Afro beat also borrows heavily from the native “tinker pan” African-style percussion that Fela acquired while studying in Ghana with Hugh Masakela, under the uncanny Hedzoleh Soundz. Afro beat is also characterized by having vocals, and musical structure, along with jazzy, funky horn sections. The endless groove is also used, in which a base rhythm of drums, shekere, muted guitar, and bass guitar are repeated throughout the song.


The purpose of a particular study or research is embedded in the intention to resolve a problem. Consequently, this study aims at:

  1. Establishing the fact that music is a critical and essential instrument of political activism.
  2. To demonstrate how music has been used an instrument of political activism in time past especially in Nigeria.
  3. Ascertaining that music can be used to curb ill practices in the political scène, i.e. political reforms.
  4. To recommend solutions options as to where problems are inherent and obvious as regard this study.


  1. Can music be a tool of political activism?
  2. Can music as a tool of political activism lead to development in Nigeria?


H1: Listening to songs about political activism would increase the possibility of being involved in political activism.

H0: Listening to songs about political activism would not increase the possibility of being involved in political activism.


The significance of any research lies in its contribution to the improvement of life by way of possessing the potential or application to problems. In doing so, this study proposes a better, more reserved and classic form of political activism that does not involve a lot of human strength or endangering a lot of lives and property physically. This form of activism proposes an intellectual approach (dealing with the brains and mind) to solving both political and social problems faced in modern day Nigeria

Most research topics in political science would focus probably on elections, foreign policy, public administration and the likes but this research with its new dimension is made in an attempt not just to solve societal problems but to widening the scope of political science to give it a more interesting fun edge. Imagine a course like “political music” being taken in the department of political science as probably a first degree undergraduate course, the student especially the youth which occupy the bulk of the first degree undergraduate would love it so much as this would increase their zeal to want to learn other aspects of political science as a whole. It would even give political science a degree of distinction and uniqueness among the social sciences.

As Nigeria strives to meet up with the twenty first century conditionality’s, new and modern approaches are needed to achieve this aim as such, This study therefore is necessary.



This study is designed to embrace the totality of music and its relation to political activism especially in Nigeria mainly drawing from the works of Fela Anikulapo Kuti, the number one musical political activist in Nigeria. It is also designed to embrace the effect of music on the Nigerian population especially the youths who are the future leaders of tomorrow as such, the running wheel of any society. However, because of financial and time constraints, the analysis of the effect of music on youth will be limited to only students in the University Of Lagos.


Financial and time constraints has not allowed for the availability of the study to be taken national. It would only be taken national with secondary data. This to some extent reduces the fun a researcher would get when carrying out a research

Music being a creative aspect of human existences has tended to make this study look a little playful. Little did they know it is more serious than they thought. Most times as a researcher, when I tell people about my topic, they just first of all give it a round of laugh thereby making the research quite frustrating at first but because of my zeal and determination based on the fact that I want to contribute to the betterment of the existence of humanity, I was able to pull through. Besides, the response from youths was very outstanding as they were eager to be a part if this fabulous presentation

Considering the hypnotic power of music, a lot of governmental restrains have been kept on music an example is the ban on some songs. This however has not allowed for the tapping into the full potential of the power of music in political activism


The research will make use of both primary and secondary sources. In order to obtain primary data, research questionnaire were developed and personally administered by the researcher to student of various faculties of the University Of Lagos. Primary data obtained from respondents will be classified into sampling proportions using the single percentage. This would allow for easy interpretations and detailed discussions. Data will specifically be presented in tables with description. The sampling size will be determined by means of convenience sampling technique. Also, a structured interview with a key respondent will be conducted to obtain as well as verify data.

The secondary data will be gotten from specifically books, journals, internet materials, general discussion with people inclusive of class lectures news papers, magazines, office reports and statistics.


The study will be presented in five chapters. Chapter one of the study incorporates introduction/background to the study, purpose of the study, research questions, hypothesis, significance of the study, scope of the study, limitations of the study, and conceptual clarification. The second chapter incorporates appropriate review of literature, and the theoretical framework. The third chapter will consist of a review of the case study, analyzing the life and times of Fela Anikulapo Kuti and the impact of his music on the Nigerian political system. The fourth chapter shall highlight research methodology, data analysis, interpretation of data and testing of hypothesis. The last chapter provides summary, findings and conclusions based on observation. It also highlight recommendations in the light of the problem investigated.


The following terms as defined below were used in the body of this research report accordingly.


This refers to the effect of something on a person thing or event that is somebody or something that is able to affect the course of event or somebody’s thinking or action.


Somebody who is young, preferably in his or her teens or early twenties that is the period of human life between childhood and maturity.

Political development

the development of the institutions, attitudes, and values that form the political power system of a society in relations to the feasible set of options open to solving political problems.


The ability, strength, or capacity to do something. i.e. the possession of controlling influence.


This refers to a disapproving attitude toward something and a wish to prevent it, or action taken to show disapproval of and prevent something.



Annie J. Randall (2004) “Music, Power, and Politics” Chicago, University of Chicago Press.

James Garratt(2010) “Music, Culture, and Social Reform in the Age of Wagner” Cambridge, Cambridge UniversityPress.

Jean-Pierre Cloutier (1987)  “Music and Politics”, Initially published in the Spring of 1987 in The Haiti Times.

  1. Hill and Dave Ramsaran.(2009) “Hip Hop and Inequality: Searching for the “Real” Slim Shady” Simona Amherst, N.Y, Cambria Press.

Laudan Nooshin(2009), “Music and the Play of Power in the Middle East, North Africa, and Central Asia”. Farnham, England, SOAS Musicology Series

Laurence O’Donnell, Music and the Brain(http//

Mark E. Smith, “Art, Music, and Politics,” Edited by Michael Goddard and Benjamin Halligan (2010) Burlington, Ashgate Popular and Folk Music Series.

Tobi Oshodi, McPhilips Nwachuckwu, and Hugo Odiogor (2011), “From solidarity melodies to rhythmic opposition: music and politics in Nigeria (1960-2010)

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