Nigerian Afrobeats singer Burna Boy recently released his fifth studio album, and everyone cannot stop talking about all the catchy new tunes.
But we are excited about the album for a different reason. One of the tracks pays homage to Ghanaian literary great Ama Ata Aidoo!
Titled Twice as Tall, the fifteen-track album features contributions from A-list musicians like Chris Martin, Sam Smith, Stormzy, Naughty by Nature, Youssou N’Dour, Sauti Sol, and producers Mike Dean and Timbaland.
The track in the album titled “Monsters You Made” and, which features British vocalist and Coldplay lead singer Chris Martin, includes an excerpt of a brilliant 1987 interview of Ghanaian novelist Ama Ata Aidoo, in which she decries colonial and post-colonial exploitation of the African continent by the West.
Aidoo’s verse begins at 3:07.
Listen to “Monsters You Made” Burna Boy Ft. Chris Martin
[Outro: Ama Ata Aidoo]
Since we met your people five hundred years ago
Look at us, we have given everything
You are still taking
In exchange for that, we have got nothing
And you know it
But don’t you think this is over now?
Is it over? (see the full lyrics here)
The track in itself is a critique of repressive powers, going back all the way to colonial times and a call for revolution. Jon Pareles, who in his review of the album for the New York Times describes the track as “the album’s most vehement,” also quotes Burna Boy’s explanation of the song:
that song comes from a lot of anger and pain, and me having to witness firsthand what my people go through and how my people see themselves…I see how many people are deceived and confused. I just try to blend all of that in and make it understood that we’re all going through the same problems. We just speak different languages.
It is not surprising that Burna Boy looks to African literature to amplify his anti-colonial message. Aidoo like, many writers of her generation, wrote clearly and powerfully about colonial systems of oppression, the most memorable of which is her novel My Sister Killjoy.
Following Beyonce’s feature of Adichie’s speech in 2013 and her recent collaboration with Warsan Shire and Yrsa Daley Ward, Burna Boy’s feature of Aidoo’s interview is yet another instance of African literature expanding its global visibility by being included other artistic spaces.
Burna Boy’s photo via Youtube | Comedy Central
Aidoo’s photo via Twitter | @aidoocenter