19 Years After: Remembering the legacy of Fela Anikulapo Kuti

Posted on August 02 2016 , at 11:58 am
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  • Fela died on August 2, 1997

Fela's brand continue to grow globally despite been dead for 19 years.
Fela’s brand continues to grow globally despite been dead for 19 years.

For the past 19 years since 1997, August 2 of every year is the day the world unites in celebration and honour of one man, Fela Anikulapo Kuti.

The late Afrobeat king took a final bow from the Nigerian political, socio-cultural and music scene. While his death was a huge loss to the oppressed in the society, it was a huge relief for the then military government led by the late Sani Abacha.

In a 2011 interview with Thenetng, his eldest son, Femi Kuti described him as, ‘Yes, he was a great man. He is the kind of person you meet and in the few minutes you spend with him, you learn so much. You become very African conscious, you will want to know more about your people, and you’ll appreciate the culture. He had that kind of aura, this African thing about him that would surely make you proud.’

EXCLUSIVE: ‘I Wish Fela Was Still Alive’ – Femi Kuti

In his lifetime, Fela was a thorn in the flesh of then military and later civilian establishments.

Fela was meant to be a doctor, an upstanding member of Nigeria’s elite like his father, an Anglican pastor who had founded the Nigeria Union of Teachers, and his mother, an aristocrat, nationalist and feminist who won the Lenin Peace Prize. His two brothers were already committed to the medical profession.

Instead, Fela became infamous, an outlaw musician who declared himself president of his own ‘Kalakuta Republic’. He used his music to voice to the general population his opposition to political mal-governance and corruption in Nigeria.

Within a short while, he became a hero to Africa’s poor; he was repeatedly raided and he and his followers were regularly arrested and beaten.

History has it that in early 1977, the military junta had had enough of Fela; the then military establishment under General Olusegun Obasanjo led thousand soldiers to overwhelm Kalakuta, brutalising and raping as they went, then razing the compound to the ground. Fela was beaten close to death, and his elderly mother thrown from an upstairs window, afterwards dying of her injuries.

READ: International music stars who derive inspiration from Fela

In today’s world, Fela is remembered as a legend and a hero. The annual Felabration concert started by Yemi Kuti in his honour remains one of the most anticipated in the world events calendar.

Below are tributes pouring in to our the late ‘Abami Eda’…

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