Shuffering and Shmiling
Fela Kuti Lyrics


Jump to: Overall Meaning ↴  Line by Line Meaning ↴

You Africans, please listen to me as Africans
And you non-Africans, listen to me with open mind

Suffer, suffer, suffer, suffer, suffer
Suffer for world
Na your fault be that
Me I say: na your fault be that
I want you all to please take your minds
Out of this musical contraption
And put your minds into any goddamn church
Any goddamn mosque
Any goddamn Celestical
Including Seraphoom and Cheruboom

Now, we are all there now
Our minds are in those places
Here we go

[Chorus]
Amen!

Suffer, suffer for world
Enjoy for Heaven
Christians go dey yab
"In Spiritum Heavinus"
Muslims go dey call
"Allahu Akbar"

Open you eye everywhere
Archbishop na miliki
Pope na enjoyment
Imam na gbaladun

[Chorus]
Archbishop dey enjoy
Pope self dey enjoy
Imam self dey enjoy
My brother wetin you say?
My brother wetin you say?

My sister wetin you go hear?
My sister wetin you go hear?

Archbishop dey for London
Pope dey for Rome
Imam dey for Mecca
Archbishop dey for London
Pope dey for Rome
Imam dey for Mecca

[Chorus]
Amen!

My people them go dey follow Bishop
Them go follow Pope
Them go follow Imam
Them go go for London
Them go go for Rome
Them go go for Mecca
Them go carry all the money
Them go juba Bishop
Juba Pope
Juba Imam
Then them go start to yab themselves:

[Fela starts chanting in mock-Latin/Arabic]

Every day, for house
Every day, for road
Every day, for bus
Every day, for work

My people, my people
My people, my people

We now have to carry our minds
Out of those goddamn places
Back into this musical contraption
Right opposite you
Now we are back here

This is what happens to we Africans every day
Now wetin I want tell you now
Na secret o
Na confidential matter
Don't tell anybody outside
Na between me and you
Now listen

As I dey say before
E dey happen to all of us every day
We Africans all over the world
Now listen

[Chorus]
Suffering and smiling!

Every day my people dey inside bus
Every day my people dey inside bus
Forty-nine sitting, ninety-nine standing
Them go pack themselves in like sardine
Them dey faint, them dey wake like cock
Them go reach house, water no dey
Them go reach bed, power no dey
Them go reach road, go-slow go come
Them go reach road, police go slap
Them go reach road, army go whip
Them go look pocket, money no dey
Them go reach work, query ready

Every day na the same thing
Every day na the same thing
Every day na the same thing
Every day na the same thing

Suffer, suffer for world...

How many, many a many you go make?
Many, many...
How many, many a many you go make?
Many, many...
How many, many a many you go make?
Many, many...




How many, many a many you go make?
Many, many...

Overall Meaning

The song "Shuffering and Shmiling" by Fela Kuti criticizes the sufferings and smiling attitude of Africans towards their own exploitation and oppression. The lyrics start by addressing Africans to listen with an open mind and then ask the listeners to take their minds out of the musical contraption and place them in a church, mosque, or Celestical. He then mentions various religious leaders - archbishop, pope, and imam - saying that they enjoy themselves while Africans suffer.


The chorus echoes "suffering and smiling" and addresses how people suffer every day, whether it's inside the bus or at work, and highlights that the situation remains the same. The lyrics point out that people follow religious leaders to different places such as London, Rome, and Mecca, carry all their money and jubilate in front of their leaders while continuing to suffer.


Fela Kuti then talks about the secret, confidential matter that happens to Africans all over the world every day. The song concludes with a rhetorical question about how many many a many people will make while suffering.


Overall, the song highlights the sufferings of Africans worldwide and questions the role of religious leaders in their lives. Fela Kuti uses his music to address social and political issues and promote social consciousness.


Line by Line Meaning

You Africans, please listen to me as Africans
A request to fellow Africans to pay attention.


And you non-Africans, listen to me with open mind
An appeal to non-Africans to approach his message without bias.


Suffer, suffer, suffer, suffer, suffer
Emphasis on the experience of suffering.


Suffer for world
Suffering is part of the world we live in.


Na your fault be that
The blame for suffering lies with those who perpetuate injustice.


Me I say: na your fault be that
Repetition of the above statement for emphasis.


I want you all to please take your minds
A request to focus on his message.


Out of this musical contraption
A reference to the music they are listening to.


And put your minds into any goddamn church
A suggestion to turn to religion for guidance.


Any goddamn mosque
The suggestion also applies to Islam.


Any goddamn Celestical
The suggestion also applies to Celestical and other religious movements.


Including Seraphoom and Cheruboom
A specific reference to certain religious movements.


[Chorus]
Transition to the chorus.


Amen!
The response that is expected after making a religious declaration.


Enjoy for Heaven
The reward for suffering is in heaven.


Christians go dey yab
Christians will taunt and tease others for not being part of their religion.


In Spiritum Heavinus
A made-up Latin phrase which means the same thing as 'Enjoy for Heaven'.


Muslims go dey call
Muslims will call out and exalt their God in public.


"Allahu Akbar"
A phrase used to praise and declare allegiance to God in Islam.


Open you eye everywhere
Be attentive and observant everywhere you go.


Archbishop na miliki
The Archbishop is enjoying luxury.


Pope na enjoyment
The Pope is also enjoying himself.


Imam na gbaladun
The Imam is living a comfortable life.


Archbishop dey enjoy
A repetition of the statement to emphasize the perceived enjoyment of religious leaders.


Pope self dey enjoy
Continuation of the repetition.


Imam self dey enjoy
Continuation of the repetition.


My brother wetin you say?
A question posed to the listener for their thoughts.


My sister wetin you go hear?
The same question as before, but directed at women.


Archbishop dey for London
The specific location where the Archbishop is enjoying luxury.


Pope dey for Rome
The specific location where the Pope is enjoying himself.


Imam dey for Mecca
The specific location where the Imam is living a comfortable life.


My people them go dey follow Bishop
People will follow religious leaders blindly.


Them go follow Pope
People will also blindly follow the Pope.


Them go follow Imam
People will likewise blindly follow the Imam.


Them go go for London
People will travel to London in pursuit of luxury.


Them go go for Rome
People will travel to Rome in pursuit of enjoying themselves.


Them go go for Mecca
People will travel to Mecca in pursuit of religious fulfillment.


Them go carry all the money
People will sacrifice their resources to pursue these desires.


Them go juba Bishop
People will lavish praise on Bishops.


Juba Pope
People will also lavish praise on the Pope.


Juba Imam
People will likewise lavish praise on the Imam.


Then them go start to yab themselves:
Then, after achieving their desires, they will begin to taunt and tease each other.


[Fela starts chanting in mock-Latin/Arabic]
The chanting is a representation of the taunts and teasing that will happen.


Every day, for house
Life at home is a struggle.


Every day, for road
Life on the road is a struggle.


Every day, for bus
The struggle continues in crowded public transport.


Every day, for work
Even at work, the struggle does not end.


Forty-nine sitting, ninety-nine standing
Illustration of the overcrowded conditions of public transport in Nigeria.


Them go pack themselves in like sardine
Further emphasis on the crowded conditions.


Them dey faint, them dey wake like cock
The struggle causes physical exhaustion.


Them go reach house, water no dey
The basic necessity of water is not met at home.


Them go reach bed, power no dey
The basic necessity of power (electricity) is not provided even at home.


Them go reach road, go-slow go come
Traffic delays on the road contribute to the struggle.


Them go reach road, police go slap
Police brutality adds to the struggle.


Them go reach road, army go whip
Military brutality also adds to the struggle.


Them go look pocket, money no dey
Lack of financial resources adds to the struggle.


Them go reach work, query ready
Even at work, there is punishment for not meeting targets.


Every day na the same thing
The repetition emphasizes that the struggle is an everyday occurrence.


How many, many a many you go make?
How long will you continue to perpetrate these struggles?


Many, many...
A long period of time.


How many, many a many you go make?
Repetition for emphasis.


Many, many...
Further emphasis on the length of time.




Contributed by Makayla R. Suggest a correction in the comments below.
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Comments from YouTube:

@Letseatdinner

Im a 23 year old Armenian from Virginia Usa and this music touches me down to my ancestral spirits. It brings me away from the southern hillbilly society that i feel i dont belong to and reconnects me with my heavily cultured roots and energies. The world is a happy place which, despite all our pain, is abundant with life.

@gabussy8971

Barev dzees

@kylereese4542

You're a hillbilly. Embrace it while the Africans embrace our own.

@1Pasha1492

👁️ MO AB 🗽🌏 ALL Moorish 👁️🌏 ASIA 🌏 ASIATICS 🌍 Inheritance 🧠 Birth right 👁️

@chrisevans8694

Western part of Virginia... I was there too....
TAZEWELL....and such...beautiful place,but....people....eĥhhhhhh


Hope all remains well❤❤

@kylereese4542

@@1Pasha1492 nutcase much 🤓

@MrRicehard

I have a fond memory of a time I spent in Sweden back in 2005. I had run out of money one night before my flight back to England, forcing me to spend a night on the streets of Stockholm in -15 degs c weather. Part of the reason I had run out of money is that several days before I had bought two Fela CD's to play on my cdman. At first I tried to stay inside the expansive building of T Centralen where my train the next afternoon would take me to the airport. However at 11pm I and many others, travelers and legit homeless were pushed out into the snow by Police. Closed till morning. The homeless people left the area quickly leaving just a young African man and myself wondering what to do. We struck up a conversation in regards to our situation. I was in inadequate clothing for the weather and he in a worse situation. He had only that afternoon arrived at the airport from Nigeria to stay with his cousin. From the airport he rang his cousin to be told. 'Get a train into the city and I'll meet you in the morning.' So here he was in a tracksuit and trainers fresh from the heat of another continent and the prospect of spending the night on the frozen streets. We decided to move out of the wind and did so as best we could. In the lea I produced my cdman and showed him the CD's I had. He was delighted to find Fela among my selection. We then spent the next four hours dancing to keep warm sharing an earbud each, connected awkwardly by the wire. He tried to teach me how to do some Afrobeat steps and together we passed the hours until a bus station across the road open at around 4am. Inside the warmth we drank coffee and chatted more until around 6am I went to wait for my train to the airport and he went off to meet up with his cousin. I have forgotten his name at this point. Yet I think I shall always remember till my dying day the cold, cold night I danced to Fela's wonderful Afrobeat to stay warm with the Nigerian stranger who may have been one of the nicest people I ever met. :)

@189hosp6

One of those rare encounters that leaves life’s indelible mark. Expatiate on this interesting encounter with before and after short story… it makes for good reading.

@QueenHavilah

How I want take read this long thing now 😂😂😂

@aldairmarroquin4184

I just discovered Fela Kuti's music last night and here I am now with a growing interest in Nigeria's cultural and social issues. Greetings from Mexico to everybody!

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