Olufela Olusegun Oludotun Ransome-Kuti, better known as Fela ANIKULAPO KUTI or simply FELA, is a Nigerian Music Legend, performer, political maverick and the pioneer of the “Afrobeat’’ genre of music.
His music was a mix of Jazz, Funk and Highlife, filled with sounds of traditional African instruments, West African chants and rhythms with a call-and-answer type chorus, and with a non-stop groove which synchronized with the lyrical bindings of his words; he expressed his perception on situations, his agitations, and his passions all too easily.
It was passionate and inspirational, creations of what seemed to be a solace for the Nigerian person who sought freedom from the wearies of politics, society and life in general as well as for those who sought insight, information, inspiration, and most importantly those who just wanted a good time. His music spoke to all. One could easily become hypnotized by the tunes and rhythms emanating from his afrobeat musical flow.
Fela Kutis died of Kaposi’s sarcoma which was brought on by AIDS. His death was announced in 1997 and over a million people were in attendance at Fela’s funeral at the site of the old Shrine compound. A new Fela Shrine has opened since his death in a different section of Lagos, Nigeria (Pepple Street Ikeja, Lagos, Nigeria) under the supervision of his son Femi Kuti.
In recent years there has been a revitalization of Fela’s influence on music and popular culture, culminating in another re-release of his catalogue controlled by Universal Music, off- and on-Broadway biopic shows as well as new bands, such as “Antibalas” who carry the Afrobeat banner to a new generation of listeners.
Fela’s music can be likened to a giant piece of a puzzle, though important IT cannot fully illustrate the whole picture. There are many positives of his life and as well numerous negatives that can be noted, but the good most often overcomes the bad.
Fela was a Human rights activist, a supporter of Pan-Africanism and socialism, and called for a united, democratic African republic. He often spoke out against the activities of the ruling government of his time (specifically a military government that profited from political exploitation and disenfranchisement).
Much can be said about his life and work. A multi-instrumentalist, composer and an all in one musician, A political maverick, A human rights activist, and most importantly The Pioneer of Afrobeat. The aura that enabled him achieve all that he did in his existence beats more than just the eye.
I call it “The aura of Africa”; that unique signature that lies in the Heart and Spirit of all Africans. It comprises a myriad of unique traits and characteristics; Strength, Courage, Heart and Spirit, Charisma, Determination and Audacity, Love for the people, to mention a few.
I believe all Africans have the potential to reach within and tap into this aura of the motherland and with it achieve success wherever and in whatever. Fela was a true African man and he seized opportunity, reached within to tap this aura and made it manifest within him, in turn it made itself manifest outside him, reached his audience and as well led him to many remarkable achievements of his life.
Fela’s music has become a part of Nigerian Culture and History. His passionate and inspirational songs in the legendary Afrobeat tune still touch the lives of not just Nigerians but the global community.
Here is a list of some of his famous songs:
2. Just like that
5. Water no get enemy
6. Everything scatter
7. Expensive shit
9. Coffin for head of state
10. Black Mans cry