On this day 82 years ago, multi-instrumentalist, political activist and Nigerian musician, Fela Anikulapo Kuti, was born.
The legendary and trailblazing musician was born October 15, 1938 and was 58 years old when he passed away in 1997.
Larger-than-life and fearless, the singer made waves for his nonconformity, ideals and radical character. He is perhaps best known as a pioneer of the Afrobeat genre, a blend of traditional Yoruba and Afro-Cuban music with funk and jazz.
At the height of his popularity, he was referred to as one of Africa’s most charismatic music performer.
Covid-19 restrictions have hampered plans this year for a live ‘Felabration’- an annual celebration of the life and music of the legend at his New Africa shrine.
But organisers have announced the line- up of artistes billed to perform at the first-ever virtual edition.
Nigerian stars including Fela’s sons Femi and Seun, Wizkid, 2Baba, Falana Music and WurlD are set to perform.
The 2020 edition is tagged: ‘Fight to Finish, Fight to Win’ and is billed to run from October 15-17. The idea and concept of Felabration as an annual celebration of Fela’s legacy, originated from his eldest child Yeni who conceived it in 1998.
And as largely peaceful protests against police brutality and bad governance rage on across the country, Fela’s legacy adds an extra dimension and carries extra weight today.
During the 70s and 80, he was an outspoken critic of the military, often enduring beatings and imprisonment due to his opinions.
The youth protesting on the streets today have often invoked Fela’s spirit, some carrying placards with his lyrics or playing his songs during demonstrations.
His scathing attacks on the government has influenced generations of Nigerian stars, including Burna Boy and Falz, whose 2019 album Mortal Instruments borrows heavily from Fela’s catalogue.
Fela’s pioneering spirit, outlandish public persona and charisma have ensured his music and legacy lives on. Long live Fela.