I.T.T. International Thief Thief (1980) was recorded following Afrika 70’s disintegration and the formation of Egypt 80. It is one of a quartet of courageous 1979/80 albums completed by V.I.P. (Vagabonds In Power), Authority Stealing and Coffin For Head Of State.
After drummer Tony Allen, who had been with Fela since 1964, quit Afrika 70 in autumn 1978, baritone saxophonist Lekan Animashaun, who had joined Fela in 1965, became Fela’s new band, Egypt 80’s bandleader. Animashaun is credited as bandleader on I.T.T., which is really an Egypt 80 album even though the band’s name is given as Afrika 70 on the sleeve.
In “International Thief Thief ,” Fela makes highly insulting, personal attacks on former Nigerian president General Obasanjo, and Moshood Abiola, the local chief executive of the multi-national corporations Internal Telephone & Telegraph (ITT) and Decca Records. Obasanjo Fela regarded as a crook, an incompetent and a thug, and held him responsible for the death of his mother following the 1977 sack of Kalakuta. Abiola, he believed, had both cheated him out of royalties and conspired with Decca’s London bosses to silence him after the 1977 attack, in order to maintain favourable relations with Obasanjo’s regime. Both men, Fela says, are “thieves,” “rats” and of “low mentality.”
“Many foreign companies dey Africa,” sings Fela, “carry all our money go, them get one style wey them dey use, them go pick one African man, a man with low mentality, them go give am million naira bread, to become of high position here, him go bribe some thousand naira bread, to become one useless chief, like rat they do them go do from corner corner, passee passee, under under, passee passee, inside inside, passee passee…like Obasanjo and Abiola…we are tired of carrying their shit.” The backing chorus intermittently respond: “International Thief Thief!”