Twenty three years ago on August 2nd, 1997 Africa lost a very spirited and hardworking Afrobeat music icon that had for decades shaken the world music territory.
Fela Anikulapo Kuti born 1938 was a Nigerian multi-instrumentalist, musician, composer, pioneer of the Afrobeat music genre and human rights activist also referred to as one of Africa’s most “challenging and charismatic music performers.”
The daring musician called himself “Abami Eda”, a Yoruba phrase that roughly translates to “the strange one”.
He sang against governments and dictators, against colonialism and injustice, against oppression and censorship.
This Nigerian musician spent much of his career in bitter fights with the ruthless military governments in his country between 1970s and 1980s.
However, the tide has changed that Fela is getting so much attention from those in power in Nigeria.
Fela’s music insighted Nigerians and other people in Africa and around the world to defy power, rebel and speak out – behaviour that the Nigerian authorities were known to crackdown on.
He was born Olu’fela’ Olusegun Oludotun Ransome-Kuti in 1938 to a father who was both a priest and a teacher, and a mother who was an anti-colonial activist.
Fela’s family was relatively well-off, and he had a more comfortable childhood than most. He had access to the best education available at the time in Nigeria.
He attended Abeokuta Grammar School and was eventually sent to Britain to study medicine, just like his two brothers.
While in London, his rebellious and artistic spirit came out and decided to study music instead of medicine.
Fela Kuti’s best 10 songs
- It’s Highlife Time (with Koola Lobitos)
- My Lady Frustration
- Ye Ye De Smell (live with the Africa ’70 and Ginger Baker),
- Roforofo Fight,
- Expensive Shit,
- No Agreement,
- Coffin for Head of State,
- Africa, Center of the World (with Roy Ayers)