Reporting from my home office desk somewhere in Lagos, Nigeria, the beautiful and unmistakable voice of Fela Anipolapo Kuti suddenly banged on my eardrums via my headphones as I was listening to Nigeria’s leading online radio, 19jaRadio, via the radio streaming application on the AceWorldTEAM portal; I instantly felt renewed and refreshed to the classic tune of a legend that has refused to die even in death and still breaks records as a living legend even amongst the living. It was as if the room lit up, though the weather remained cloudy outside; it wasn’t accidental that I was surfing the web at the time the tune, “Power Show,” reeled in. I immediately took to Google to research on the tune and there it was – Felabration was a few days away; as it is known that I have both an itchy palm and fingers, I quickly picked my pen, jotted some findings on my pad and continued surfing the web on what this year’s Felabration had to offer differently.
Felabration is our annual festival of music and arts commemorating the life and times of Nigerian’s foremost musical icon, the late great Fela Anipolapo Kuti; as a music brand, it’s revered and highly influential. The idea and concept of Felabration as an annual celebration of Fela’s music, life and times, originated from his eldest child, Yeni Kuti, who conceived it in 1998; with the exception of 1999, Felabration has taken place yearly. Currently, Felabration, organized by the Felabration Organising Committee, has grown into a mega week-long musical event in Nigeria which attracts thousands of visitors annually to the new African Shrine from all over the world and is an official tourist destination of the Lagos State Government who are major sponsors of the event; over the years, Felabration has attracted many high class musical acts from all over the world. The roll call includes Hugh Masakela, Femi Kuti, Lucky Dube, Awilo Longomba, Baba Maal, Les Nubians, King Sunny Ade, Lagbaja, Asa, 2face Idibia, Seun Kuti and many others; in 2008, over 50 international artistes came together from the United States, Great Britain, France and Senegal, to perform at Felabration under the banner, African Express. Every year, Felabration features exciting line ups of artistes designed to whet the appetite of music lovers; the Felabration Week always runs through the week of October that includes the 15th, ensuring that Fela’s posthumous birthday celebrations are part of the festival. As the creator of Afrobeat, social critic, political activist and champion of the underprivileged as well as a philosopher of his own political ideologue, Fela is still today a hero to millions for his contributions to society; the festival in his honour always attracts a huge loyal following. Every year, Felabration attracts over 100 artistes both locally and internationally; the festivals always include various creatively diverse activities suck as “The Fela Debates” symposium series, the Secondary Schools Debate for schools in Lagos state, Dance Troupes, Photo Exhibitions, the Fela Street Carnival Parade with musical floats and costumed dancers, The Fela Week Partners events and much more – Felabration offer an exhilarating week-long festivity celebrating the iconic status of Africa’s best known musical figure, and best of all, it remains mostly free!
Only God can forgive those who think that Fela Anipolapo Kuti was just a smoker and serial womanizer during his life time; over the years, the iconic legend of Afrobeat, has remained relevant, not only to Nigerians, but to music lovers world over. Undoubtedly, Fela, who died on August 2, 1997, made an impact on the society during his time; his unique music has attracted many musicians and individuals., more-so, his lifestyle and habit made him a brand many people wanted to associate with. Unfortunately for copycats, they found it difficult and failed to get the Fela edge, nevertheless, Fela wannabes, through emulation, ensure that the icon lives on; Fela was typically extolled for using his music as a potent weapon to fight injustice, military tyranny and oppression while also advocating for a better Nigeria, nay Africa. He dared the Nigerian government of his time for entrenching corruption and human rights abuses; his view as regards socio-cultural trend was beyond ordinary.
Indeed, he was the Abami Eda (The Strange One).
In that light, it might not be erroneous if anyone proclaims Fela as a prophet of his time; his words, especially through his music reverberated with prophetic outcomes. Many of what he sang about happened or are still happening, making him very relevant in present times; while alive, Fela was also known for being on the side of the people. His commune, the Kalakuta Republic in Ikeja, Lagos, which is currently a museum, was home to many; he stood on what he believed to be right without fear, which attests to the fact that he was a brave man, even if he did suffer several beatings by military goons and devious prison terms for maintaining his stance. And since Fela’s death, his family members, associates and advocates, have been holding his memories and legacies aloft through the annual week-long festival of music tagged Felabration; with the exception of 1999, Felabration has taken place yearly. Felabration attracts thousands of people from across the world to the new African Shrine to keep his legacies alive in grand style; this year’s Felabration would be different – it promises to be a grander celebration of arguably the most iconic multi-instrumentalist ever to come out of Africa. In honour of late Afro-King Fela Anipolapo Kuti, 2015 Felabration festival preparation has kicked off, as Wizkid, DavidO and Femi Kuti have been unveiled as artistes included in the lineup of events; the annual event founded by Fela’s eldest child, Yeni Kuti, takes place during the week of Fela’s birth, between 12 October and 18 October.
The theme of Felabration 2015 has been revealed as “Just Like That”; in our usual tradition, AceWorldTEAM’s Media Personnel, Daniji “BigDan” Emmanuel would be present in the week-long carnival to honour the Legend.
FELABRATION 2015 SCHEDULE
OCTOBER 6TH, 2015
ITINERARY: SENIOR SECONDARY SCHOOLS DEBATE
TOPIC: “Poverty is not an accident.” An expatiated form is “Poverty is not an accident like slavery and apartheid, It is man-made and can be removed by the actions of human beings.”
VENUE: FREEDOM PARK, BROAD STREET OPP GENERAL HOSPITAL, LAGOS
OCTOBER 12TH, 2015
ITINERARY: SYMPOSIUM (FELA DEBATES 7)
TOPIC: Human Rights as my Property
VENUE: NECA HOUSE AUDITORIUM, PLOT A2 HAKEEM BALOGUN STREET, CENTRAL BUSINESS DISTRICT, ALAUSA IKEJA, LAGOS
OCTOBER 12 – 18TH, 2015
ITINERARY: MUSICAL CONCERT
VENUE: NEW AFRICAN SHRINE, 1 NERDC ROAD AGIDINGBI, IKEJA
OCTOBER 17TH, 2015
VENUE: IKEJA ENVIRONS
PS: This piece is an extensive research work of the writer; Daniji Emmanuel is guilty for having 2 addictions in his life – Music & Writing. A relentless writer, wide scope researcher and a confluence of knowledge, BigDan, as he is popularly known is a disciple of the Thomas Huxley quote, “try to learn something about everything and everything about something.”