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Professional ratings
Review scores
Source Rating
Allmusic 4.5/5 stars [1]
Robert Christgau A− [2]

Zombie is the 27th full-length album by afrobeat pioneer Fela Kuti. The album criticised the Nigerian government; and it is thought to have resulted in the murder of Kuti's mother and the destruction of his commune by the military.

Controversy and fallout

The album was a scathing attack on Nigerian soldiers using the zombie metaphor to describe the methods of the Nigerian military. The album was a smash hit with the people and infuriated the government, setting off a vicious attack against the Kalakuta Republic (a commune that Fela had established in Nigeria), during which one thousand soldiers attacked the commune. Kuti was severely beaten, and his elderly mother was thrown from a window, causing fatal injuries. Soon after Kuti's mother had been injured, the commanding officer defecated on the elderly woman's face. The Kalakuta Republic was burned, and Kuti's studio, instruments, and master tapes were destroyed. Kuti claimed that he would have been killed if it were not for the intervention of a commanding officer as he was being beaten. Kuti's response to the attack was to deliver his mother's coffin to the main army barrack in Lagos and write two songs, "Coffin for Head of State" and "Unknown Soldier", referencing the official inquiry that claimed the commune had been destroyed by an unknown soldier.

Kuti and his band then took residence in Crossroads Hotel as the Shrine had been destroyed along with his commune. In 1978 Kuti married 27 women, many of whom were his dancers, composers, and singers to mark the anniversary of the attack on the Kalakuta Republic. Later, he was to adopt a rotation system of keeping only twelve simultaneous wives.[3] The year was also marked by two notorious concerts, the first in Accra in which riots broke out during the song "Zombie," which led to Kuti being banned from entering Ghana. The second was at the Berlin Jazz Festival after which most of Kuti's musicians deserted him, due to rumors that Kuti was planning to use the entirety of the proceeds to fund his presidential campaign.

Track listing

All songs written by Fela Kuti.

  1. "Zombie" – 12:26
  2. "Mister Follow Follow" – 12:58
  3. "Observation Is No Crime" – 13:26 [CD bonus track]
  4. "Mistake" Live at the Berlin Jazz Festival, 1978 – 14:47 [CD Bonus Track]


  2. "Album: Fela Anikulapo Kuti: Zombie". Robert Christgau. Retrieved 2011-11-07.
  3. Peter Culshaw (2006-10-26). "Fela Kuti remembered | World | Music". London: Retrieved 2011-11-07.

Veal, Michael. Fela Kuti, composer. Coffin For Head of State / Unknown Soldier. Compact Disc. Liner notes. Los Angeles: Universal Music, 2000.