Fela Anikulapo-Kuti, Lying instate 08/03/97
Afrika “70 band leader and pioneer of the Afrobeat music genre, Fela Anikulapo-Kuti, revolutionized PanAfricanism, Nkrumahism, Traditional West African chants and rhythms, African Social and Political issues. Fela also globally, institutionalized Yoruba religion and traditional ceremonies, Nigerian Highlife music and Psychedelic rock.
Fela, the son of Reverend Isreal Oludotun Ransome-Kuti and Nigerian feminist activist- Funmilayo Ransome-Kuti, studied music in London, at Trinity College Of Music. Two years after arriving in London, he married his first wife- Remilekun Taylor in 1960, with whom he had Femi, Yeni and Sola Anikulapo-Kuti.
In 1963, Fela returns to Nigeria and starts working as a producer for the Nigerian Broadcasting Corporation. In search of a new musical direction, in 1967, he established the Afrobeat music genre and moved to Los Angeles with his band where he discovered the Black Power movement and became associated with Sandra Izsadore (Sandra, Fela`s lover, friend and teacher, radically influenced his political ideas and consciousness).
In 1977, Fela released Zombie, one of his most politically motivated albums. This album unleashed an avalanche of vicious attacks from the military rule of President General Olusegun Obasanjo. One thousand military soldiers stormed Fela`s Kalakuta Republic (Kalakuta Republic was a commune, recording studio and home that Fela had built for the members of his band) commune.
During this military raid, Fela and members of his band were severely beaten, Kalakuta was destroyed, his instruments and master tapes were obliterated and Fela`s elderly mother was thrown out of a window and killed. His answer to the military raid, was to deliver his mother`s coffin to Dodan Barracks, (General Obasanjo`s presidential residence). Fela also wrote two songs- Coffin for Head of State and Unknown Soldier- chronicling the military brutality that he and his band members had suffered and also because, the military had claimed that, Kalakuta Republic had been decimated by ‘an unknown soldier’.
In 1978, In an attempt to mark the anniversary of the attack on his commune and as a way to protect himself and his wives from false military kidnapping claims, Fela married 27 women who were his dancers, composers and singers.
In 1984, Fela vocally opposed president Muhammadu Buhari`s regime and as punishment, he was jailed for 20 months. Upon his release, he divorced the rest of his wives, claiming that, “marriage brings selfishness and jealousy”.
Fela had once again, changed the name of his band to Egypt ’80, explaining the fact that, he believed that, the Egyptian civilization belongs to Africans. In 1989, he released his last album- Beasts Of No Nation. This album, was Fela`s calculated protest against South Africa`s apartheid system.
In the ’90s, Fela stopped releasing record albums in the midst of very rampant rumours concerning the fact that he had contracted the AIDS virus. On August 3rd 1997, Fela`s brother, Olikoye Ransome-Kuti ( who was a very prominent AIDS activist) announced Fela`s death. Fela had actually died of heart failure, due to complications from AIDS.
Fela Anikulapo Kuti has been gone for 20 years and is to date recognized as a sociopolitical voice, an accomplished instrumentalist, a global music legend and icon, a fearless political activist and dedicated Yoruba Traditionalist. Fela`s legacy continues to live on, through his children, Femi, Yeni, Seun, Sola, Omosalewa, Kunle and Motunrayo Anikulapo Kuti.