Rock music is not a popular genre in Nigeria. Although it has been suggested that this is because Nigerians cannot warm up to sounds that do not incorporate African rhythms, the genre actually flourished in Nigeria once upon a time. From the late 1960s through to the 1970s, Nigerians created original rock music that drew inspiration from Western acts, such as the Beatles, while incorporating indigenous elements. This largely forgotten part of Nigerian musical history is the focus of a new audio-visual documentary, “Wake Up You! The Rise and Fall of Nigerian Rock, 1972 – 1977.”

 

 

“Wake Up You!” is produced by Uchenna Ikonne and Eothen Alapatt. Ikonne, a Nigerian-American musicologist and researcher, hopes to stir interest in the rock artists of decades past while preserving the cultural heritage that is largely forgotten. “Wake Up You!” will come in two volumes, the first of which has been released. The second volume will be available on May 20. The series will include an informative book and an album compilation of some of the best Nigerian rock sounds.

 

A chronicle of Nigerian rock music, “Wake Up You!” has been ten years in the making. It is a unique investigation into the history of the genre that has been scarcely documented. Ikonne, a music and history fan, says that the period when Nigerian rock music emerged was “one of the most productive times in the music industry in Nigeria.”

 

 

The 1960s and 1970s was the period around when Nigeria gained its independence. Those musicians who grew up with independence likely used music as a tool of rebellion against the society at that time. By adopting new styles of music and dance, they pushed against restrictions on behavior and sexuality. The original Nigerian rock of “Wake Up You!” may not revive the genre in Nigeria but it will bring this obscure genre to the world.

 

Are you looking forward to the second installment of this celebration of Nigerian rock music? Comment below or find me on Twitter @rafeeeeta