Story by Niyi Tabiti
Photo courtesy:Fela photo Library
Dead or alive, Fela Anikulapo Kuti remains the most enigmatic music phenomenon ever to come out of Nigeria. That is why his post humous birthday celebration has continued to attract thousands of people from all walks of life. This year’s edition is no exception as thousands of ardent music lovers who believe so much in ‘Fela-sophy’, music researchers and fans troop en masse to the new Afrikka Shrine (owned by his son, Femi Kuti) to pay ‘Baba 70’ homage even in death.Starting started on Tuesday 14 and ended on Sunday 19 October 2008.
Of course, it brought alive, the memories of the late ‘Abami Eda’ (The strange man) who lived and sang against corrupt practices in government. He was harassed by security agents, arrested and jailed at different times.So incredible was Fela that he would be remembered as the first Nigerian artiste who composed songs and openely berated military governments in power.Unknown Soldier, one of his popular songs was done after soldiers caused damages that led to his mother’s death durning the military regime of General Olusegun Obasanjo in the 70s.
Beyond Fela’s human rights activism, He was also known to have engaged in open display of ‘Indian hemp’ smoking.Perhaps, the reason why the Afrikka Shrine also went up in flames (lol) as young and old, rich and poor came to smoke that ‘thing’ that make them ‘high!’
He believed so much in African culture and tradition- the reason he changed his name his surname from Ransome-Kuti to ‘Anikulapo’ Kuti ( the one who has death in his pocket).He prroclaim the african worship of ifa divination and other gods as his own way of life.Known to have married 27 wives the same day before he divorced them in 1986, Fela died in 1997 due to what the family described as illness resulting from infection of the HIV/AIDS.
Today, Yeni, Femi and Seun the children he left behind seems to have taken his foot steps.Apparently, they are aware of the fact that they could only try but not wear the big shoe left behind by their father and mentor.
Dapo Oyebanjo, the Nigerian born musician popularly known as D’banj is one of the few entertainers in the world whose deft moves on stage anchor a similarity with that of Abami Eda but with a fusion of contemporary styles.