After a hectic rehearsal at the studio with my band, walking home, drinking a bottle of coke. It was one of those walks I take when I feel there’s a lot to talk to myself. This was a different one, not just because I was happy, I also had a good battery on my phone to play my favorite songs till I got home; it just shuffled to Femi Kuti‘s 1997 song, and I don’t know why but that song carries so much interest and spirituality. If you understand me, Femi Kuti didn’t sing that song because it was year 1997, that song was influenced by the G.O.A.T called Fela Anikulapo Kuti when he died. He was born on the 15th of October, 1938 in Abeokuta, Ogun State, Nigeria to Mr. and Mrs. Ransome Kuti. His mother was a feminist activist while his father was a protestant leader and school principal. He studied music in London instead of Medicine, changed his surname from Ransome Kuti to Anikulapo Kuti meaning “someone who carries death in his pouch” saying Ransome is a slave name. Since 1977 he called himself Fela Anikulapo Kuti, the name of a king.
Who is Fela? Some call him the greatest musician in Africa, some call him a rebel, some say he’s a prophet, General Olusegun Obansanjo called him a goat, but I call him a G.O.A.T – “Greatest Of All Time“. A goat is a stubborn animal that does what he feels he should, he is never wrong, he needs nobody to guide him or correct him, likewise Fela. With what I noticed, he lived his life how he wanted, probably he had it all planned or written out. He had rules and principles. He was a very brilliant man, his specie wasn’t for that generation. I met a woman who said “I followed Fela before I followed Jesus“. Just like how a good man works harder to keep the generation coming in good state, that’s how he worked down musically for every artiste in the world. We have international rappers like Jay Z, J. Cole, Talib Kweli, Swizz Beats, Nas, Common, Lil’ Wayne and many more sampling his music.
Fela wanted equal human rights, he lived like a king and he felt everyone else deserved too, he is an open minded person, he’s the type not to have grudges against anybody, he was too accommodating, he built a home [Kalakuta Republic] where he stayed with many people, his band and their relatives. He was never selfish, to me he was the strongest man in Africa, the only weapon he had was music and he used it. His power which is music was God given, it cannot be traced. He believed in saying the truth and making people see why he is not a goat. The government never gave him a chance, he was severely beaten, and his mother was thrown from a window which resulted to her death. The Kalakuta Republic was burnt and his studio, instruments, and master tapes were destroyed. He would have been killed. His response was to deliver his mother’s coffin to the Dodan Barracks in Lagos, General Olusegun Obasanjo‘s residence, and to write 2 songs – “Coffin For Head of State” and “Unknown Soldier“. It’s only a goat that would behave this way, it’s only a goat that before you turn your back he’s back at it, goats believe in going for what they want, like I said the only weapon he used against the government was his music, he never demonstrated violence. He was banned from Accra because the “crowd” broke out during the song “Zombie“, which lead to a riot, the 2nd was at the Berlin Jazz Festival after which most of his musicians left him, due to rumors that he was planning to use the entire proceeds to fund his presidential campaign.
Fela was determined to come back. He formed his own political party, which he called Movement of the People [M.O.P]. He put himself forward for President elections but his candidature was refused. He created a new band called Egypt ’80 and recorded his albums. He dissed the political establishment by singing the truth, and dropping the names of ITT Corporation – Moshood Abiola and General Olusegun Obasanjo at the end of a hot-selling 25-minute political screed titled “International Thief-Thief“, “Army Arrangement” etc.
He kept it real as usual.
Fela and his band Egypt ’80 released the anti-apartheid “Beasts of No Nation” album. He was a goat, but he is still the G.O.A.T. His memory lives on as the music goes stronger through his children – Femi Kuti, Seun Kuti, and every musician doing it for Afro-beats.
Baba 70 lives on!
Fela Anikulapo Kuti [15th October 1938 – 2nd August 1997]