Happy Birthday Fela Kuti
“When you are the King of Afrikan music you are the King, ‘cuz music is the King of all professions!” commented Fela.
The Tony Award winning musical ‘Fela On Broadway’ – backed by entertainment moguls: Jay-Z, Will Smith and wife Jada – has helped introduce the legendary Afrikan activist and his motivational music to the current generation, as well as to new markets worldwide.
Born on October 15th 1938 in Abeokuta, Ogun State, Nigeria – as a youth, Olufela Olusegun Oludotun Ramsome-Kuti, experienced the imperialist bloodsucking Europeans raping his homeland of its natural resources.
As his understanding grew, he made the correlation with other oppressed Afrikans throughout the Diaspora and went on to incorporate the messages of the local resistance movements into his art-form while utilizing his music as a weapon to help liberate the masses.
Studying music since he was a youth, Fela traveled abroad to the other countries throughout the Motherland, U.S.A. and Europe as he developed his craft. He credits Ghanaian President Osagyefo Kwame Nkrumah, the Black Power movement and the Autobiography of Malcolm X as sources of inspiration which contributed greatly to his social consciousness.
Much in the same manner as Bob Marley’s reggae rhythms captured the essence of one’s soul while the messages sparked the minds, Kuti’s hypnotic sounds have a similar effect as he inspires millions worldwide.
Fela married all 27 of his wives during one ceremony as they communed for a common cause musically and socially.
As his influence reached the masses, he became more politicized organizing M.O.P. – (the Movement Of the People) which represented the interests of the everyday people he loved so much. The government were feeling the force his music was creating and attempts on his life were made.
“It would be wise for them to register M.O.P. quickly, because if they don’t register this time it will be trouble!” he once warned. “…but knowing this government they will not register me.. They’re trying to make the government into a two party government where they won’t be able to register any more parties. They want to make it into a law.”
Fela is the creator of the ‘Afrobeat’ sound… a fusion of Afrikan rhythms, jazz, funk, soul and mesmerizing percussion sounds… spoken in a combination of English as well as his native tongue… forming a musical movement which fueled the revolutionaries in Nigeria to overthrow the European colonizers which were causing confusion amongst the original people.
After contracting H.I.V. he made his transition on Augst 2nd 1997. His son Femi and various Afrobeat bands continue his legacy.
“It’s in the minds of everybody now, subconsciously, everybody knows they have to be Afrikans now!” Fela
The musical has trekked across the globe.
Find out when the tour hits your city: http://www.felaonbroadway.com/
For books and DVDs about Fela and his sun Femi check: http://www.ea17.com/store/index.php?main_page=advanced_search_result&search_in_description=1&keyword=fela