Remembering Afro-beat legend, Fela 21 years after
Remembering the Afro-beat king, Fela 21 years after his demise on August 2, 1997, his children, Yeni Kuti and Seun Kuti have taken to social media to pay tribute.
“This day 21 years ago, we lost our father. A father to all! Continue to Rest In Peace Fela! Sun Re!” Yeni shared on social media.
Fela was known as an activist, using his songs to correct the ills in the society. Despite facing arrest over 200 times, having his house burned down, seeing his mother thrown down from the window of his Kalakuta Republic, he fearlessly called out corrupt leaders in Nigeria.
His son Seun also remembering him, thanked him for his sacrifice.
“Thanks for all the sacrifices Baba Mi. 21 years on and I am on playing my part. Rest in power. Do it for the blood that was spilt. For all the pain endured. I love you men” Seun wrote
Fela Anikulapo Kuti was born Olufela Olusegun Oludotun Ransome-Kuti to an Anglican reverend and a feminist. His mother, Chief Olufumilayo, was the first woman to drive a car in Nigeria.
After his secondary education, he was sent to study Medicine but, instead, went to Trinity College of Music. During this time, he formed a band named Koola Lobitos.
In 1960, he got married to the first of his 27 wives, Remilekun Taylor. He left London for Nigeria three years later and trained to be a radio producer for the Nigerian Broadcasting Corporation. In 1967, he headed to Ghana where he named his style of music, Afrobeat. Two years later, he went to the US with his band where he got influenced by the Black Power movement and rechristened his band, Nigeria ’70.
Upon his return to Nigeria, he renamed the band The Afrika ’70 and began to address social issues with pidgin English. He would go on to form the Kalakuta Republic, a recording studio, kick off a nightclub, Afrika Shrine, and change his name to Anikulapo.
As Fela became popular, so did the government’s distaste increase. With over 200 arrests, government raids became common in Kalakuta. After the release of Zombie, a song describing Nigerian soldiers, the government struck, beating him, throwing his mother from the window and burning down the Kalakuta Republic.
He was known to drop names of corrupt leaders in his songs, including Moshood Abiola, General Olusegun Obasanjo and General Muhammadu Buhari.
He extended his activism to political columns he ran in national newspapers under the title “Chief Priest Say”. In 1979, he contested for president under his party, Movement of the People (MOP).
In 1993, he was arrested for murder under Sani Abacha’s regime. During this time, his was plagued by a sickness he refused to treat. On the 2nd of August, 1997, Fela Anikulapo-Kuti died of AIDS.