Meet Nigeria's Captain Rugged - a superhero who can dance

Wed Feb 26, 2014 4:12am EST
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By Jeremy Gaunt

LONDON (Reuters) - A new superhero is fighting for freedom, justice and the Nigerian way in the mean streets of Lagos. And - oh, yes - he can dance too.

Meet Captain Rugged, the creation of Nigerian musician Keziah Jones. He is the inspiration for Jones's latest "blufunk" album release and, unusually, the subject of a graphic novel published along with it.

The idea, Jones says, is to show off Nigeria's premier city to the outside world - as a place that is as arresting as Paris or London, yet also transformed by unshared oil wealth into a blight of shanty towns and homelessness.

"Nigeria is one of the fastest growing economies but none of that is trickling down," Jones told Reuters in a telephone interview. "The Captain Rugged project was really an attempt to put something on the map about Lagos in a way that could be understood by non-Nigerians."

The captain of the novel and album is an army officer said to be absent without leave from his patrol in the Niger Delta - the hub of Nigeria's oil business. Now in Lagos, he fights with almost super-human strength against corrupt police and money-grasping politicians.

"He will look at all the pollution and death and say, 'What do I do?'" Jones said.

Rugged's first intervention in the novel is to stop police officers Godbless and Lucky from beating up a street urchin pickpocket called Jetlag. Young Jetlag is so impressed that he joins the local chapter of the Lagos Recovering Criminals Association.

This and similar developments upset the powers that be - army generals and rich politicians - who worry that the poor are becoming so demanding "some of them are even asking for education".   Continued...

Nigerian musician Keziah Jones reacts during an interview with Reuters at his home in Lagos February 25, 2014. REUTERS/Akintunde Akinleye