Last week, on Retro Sound, I featured a song by the Queen Of Nigerian Reggae music Evi Edna Ogholi – No Place Like Home, and I mentioned a few prominent names in the golden ear of Nigerian Reggae music, household names who are very much recognizable to the ears of mainstream audiences in Nigeria.
However, one artiste, who was quietly a trailblazer in the Reggae music genre is the guy called Tera Kota, an unassuming and reclusive character who released his spectacular debut album Lamentation In Sodom back in 1984. The album was considered a seminal poin in the genre, because unlike the mainstream Reggae sound that dominated the airwaves in those days, LIS was the reportedly the first major Reggae album in Nigeria to contain revolutionary, Rastafari and Afrocentric subject matters which were generally considered taboo subjects by a majority of the artiste community, record labels and listening populace.
speaking on the album, renowned music critic and archivist Uchenna Ikonne had this to say,
While there had been other artists like Bassey Black & the Natty Messiah or even Pazy & the Black Hippies who had made nods towards roots culture in the past, none had done it as uncompromisingly as Tera Kota, or on as large a scale. In contrast to the glamorous and decadent image of a lot of musicians during the boogie era, Tera Kota was aggressively ascetic and asexual, and projected an aura or personal purity that bordered on misogynistic. He made it abundantly clear that he did not mess with the opposite sex (whom he referred to as “Jezebels”) and would not tolerate even the most casual interaction between himself and any Daughter of Eve.
The album was produced, mixed and mastered by the legendary Lemmy Jackson in Lagos who created a sonic explosion that resulted in an album that served as a soundtrack to the rebellious and militant youth of that era. If you are wondering what Sodom meant to Tera Kota, here is an excerpt from an interview by the artiste in 1988, 4 years after the album was released.
All the difficulties of the average Nigerian notwithstanding, Tera Kota says Nigeria still qualifies as ‘Sodom.’ ‘Sodom’ is Tera Kota’s reaction to what Jamaicans call ‘Babylon’. According to him, Babylon is the oppression of blacks by whites, and Sodom is “oppression of blacks by blacks, as in Nigeria.” He claims that Africa is no Zion, a black paradise.
“Nigeria is still ‘Sodom’. If I had the foresight to sing about Lamentation for Sodom, and four years later people are still lamenting, then people should take cognizance of my messages. What I described in Lamentation is still happening.”
Perhaps, Tera Kota was right..