The Federal Republic of Nigeria, commonly referred to as Nigeria, is a federal republic in West Africa, bordering Benin in the west, Chad and Cameroon in the east, and Niger in the north. Its coast in the south lies on the Gulf of Guinea in the Atlantic Ocean. Nigeria has been home to a number of kingdoms and tribal states over the millennia. The modern state originated from British colonial rule beginning in the 19th century, and took its present territorial shape with the merging of the Southern Nigeria Protectorate and Northern Nigeria Protectorate in 1914. The British set up administrative and legal structures whilst practising indirect rule through traditional chiefdoms. Nigeria became a formally independent federation in 1960. It experienced a civil war from 1967 to 1970. It thereafter alternated between democratically elected civilian governments and military dictatorships until it achieved a stable democracy in 1999, with the 2011 presidential election considered the first to be reasonably free and fair.
Links To Peel
Peel's links to Nigeria started in November 1968 when satirist John Wells guested on the Night Ride programme and criticised the then Prime Minister Harold Wilson, accusing him of indifference to the suffering caused by the civil war in that country (pictures of starving children in the rebel province of Biafra were at the time unavoidable, both in newspapers and on TV). Wilson, notoriously sensitive to media criticism, demanded an apology from the BBC, which Peel was obliged to read out on the following programme. Yet Peel and Wells were vindicated when details of an attempted cover-up of British involvement in the civil war emeged many years later
Night Ride programmes which Peel presented likely had some Nigerian tunes from the BBC Archives played on his shows, including the Choir Of St. Judes Anglican Church, which was later found on John Peel's Archive Things, a compilation of world music that he would have played on his programmes.
During 1973, Peel started to have sessions of artists from Nigeria, due to Ginger Baker returning from Nigeria to the UK, following his travels across the continent to explore its music, resulting in a BBC TV Omnibus documentary called 'Ginger Baker In Africa'. Around the same time, he gave Peel a series of African sessions recorded at his recording studio in Nigeria, which were broadcast on Sounds Of The Seventies as the 'Lagos Sessions' throughout July of that year.
In the 80's and beyond, most of Peel's African music attention diverted to soukous artists mostly living in exile from Zaire (now called the Democratic Republic Of Congo) and Chimurenga musicians from Zimbabwe, who dominated his African playlists, partly due to more record labels sending him large amounts of music from those countries. Nigerian music from that period became less sporadic and by the time Peel died, very few got any airplay on his shows.
The following Nigerian artists recorded sessions for the John Peel show.
- Bongos & The Groovies: (1 session, 1973)
- Fela Kuti: (1 session, 1973)
- Funkees: (2 sessions, 1974-75)
- MonoMono: (1 session, 1973)
- Oseni: (1 session, 1973)
- Steve Rhodes Singers: (1 session, 1973)