Made Kuti – ‘Your Enemy’

In this year, artists like Falz (‘Johnny‘) and Burna Boy (‘20 10 2020‘) have vocalized their protest against the excessive use of violence by police units in Nigeria through songs. ‘Your Enemy‘ by Made Kuti enlarges the discussion in order to ask questions about the structural and psychological factors that can cause police brutality. The track is taken from the double-album ‘Legacy +‘, which he releases with his father Femi Kuti in February 2021.

“When we say
When we talk of police brutality
We must know
Why they are the way they are”

In the lyrics, he suggests that one of the reasons why police officers develop corrupt behavior is because they are insufficiently paid. His questions let listeners think about the overarching system, in which corruption happens and is used as a destructive means to fulfill human needs.

But you see officer get house
And for him house officer him get wife
And with him wife officer him get plenty pikin

And so officer must buy food you know
And then officer must buy gen you know
And then officer must pay for school fees …

If civilians dey suffer and
Police sef dey suffer then
Who dey cause the suffer then

Made Kuti is not excusing policemen. He condemns the senseless violence: “Why must he die/ Why must she die for you alone?”. But he invites us to see the larger picture, to identify the multiple causes of this phenomenon. His last words in the lyrics may point to the government and those responsible for police oversight. He invites us to identify the real “enemy“:

“Free your mind and
Clear your eyes
See who is
The real Enemy”

The theory, suggested in Made Kuti’s track, is also being controversially discussed by experts in the field. Marvellous Iheukwumere, for example, suggests that a reform of a Nigerian Police should include – among other things – increases in police salaries. According to her “combined with appropriate punitive measures, increasing police salaries can make it easier for officers to behave with the expected level of integrity, and will lessen resistance to a crackdown on previously tolerated corrupt practices that supplement officers’ incomes.” (Global Anticorruption Blog).

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