Late Fela Anikulapo Kuti simply called Fela, sang Trouble Sleep, Yanga Wake am to warn people to stop fomenting trouble. The song begins with percussion instruments followed by a trumpet. Then he hums the song for a minute preceded by trumpeters and saxophonists who blow for more than two minutes to usher in the song.
The funniest part of this seven and half minutes’ song is where Abami Eda sang: Mr. Husband marry for church, he make big party. Then he starts to spray, because him love him wife. Him say, wife come run away. Bank manager run come. He say, “Mister, pay me your debt” wetin him dey find for Lagos e-o, palaver, he dey find, palaver, he go get-e o palaver, he go get, palaver.
The above lyrics advised people to cut their coat according to their cloth.
Figuratively, Trouble Sleep, Iyanga Go Wake am, is Fela’s way of reminding people about the consequence of challenging an opponent who may retaliate in a deadly way.
Ironically, British Oxford English dictionary defined palaver as idle talk or talk that intends to charm or beguile someone. But, Fela’s meaning of palaver in this song is trouble. Through this song, a lot of Nigerians misuse palaver, thinking it means trouble. Some people usually ask: “Why are you looking for my palaver now?” this shows how Fela’s songs influenced a lot of his fans in Nigeria and beyond.
Born on October 15, 1938, the multi-talented musician and instrumentalist died on 2 August 2, 1997 at the age of 59. Lyrics of some of his songs including Teacher Don’t Teach Me Nonsense, Zombie, Water No Get Enemy, Sorrow, Shakara, No Agreement, Roforofo Fight, Tears and Blood and Shuffering and Shmiling were done in pidgin which made it easier for everybody to sing them.
Being an activist, politically, the Afrobeat meastro might have used Trouble Sleep, Yanga Wake am to challenge the then military government to leave him alone because he would react and fight them with a new song.
His voice was not loud but subtle. Also, the instruments used made the song richer.