Fela lives on….fifteen years after
Today marks the fifteenth death anniversary of late Afro-beat King, Fela Anikulapo Kuti.
The week long Felabration ceremony to celebrate the icon kicks off today with the Thursday Rehearsal Blast at the The New Afrika Shrine with a special performance by Femi Kuti.
Born Olufela Olusegun Oludotun Ransome-Kuti, on the 15th of October, 1938, the artist was popularly known as Fela Kuti, and during and after his lifetime, emerged as one of Africa’s greatest musician and performer.
The Afro-beat legend, whose legacy continues to live on, passed away on the 2nd of August, 1997 and was announced dead by his brother the former Health Minister, Professor Olikoye Ransome-Kuti, citing HIV/AIDS as the cause of death.
Fela formed the Kalakuta Republic and also set up a nightclub in the Empire Hotel, named the Afro-Spot and later re-named Afrika Shrine, where he performed regularly.
His genre of music; Afrobeat, is a complex fusion of Jazz, Ghanaian/Nigerian High-life, and traditional West African chants and rhythms.
He mostly sang in Pidgin English but he also performed a few songs in his native Yoruba language and English language.
Fela was also an instrumentalist playing saxophone and keyboards to his rich Afro-beat lyrics. He also played the trumpet, electric guitar, and occasionally beats the drum.
Fela was an avid supporter of human rights and many of his songs were directly critical of corruption in government and against dictatorships across Africa. He was also very critical of the military governments in Nigeria in the 1970s and 1980s.
As a traditionalist, Fela was also very critical of African elite for betraying traditional African culture.