Happy posthumous birthday to the legendary singer-songwriter, musician, activist, traditionalist and preacher of Africanism, Fela Anikulapo-Kuti. He would’ve have been 80-years-old today but he died on August 2, 1997 nonetheless his legacy, popularity and maverick ideologies would eternally make him a celebrity even in the great beyond.
Today we celebrate his life and confrontational idiosyncrasies, here are 10 things you didn’t know about the connoisseur of political activism.
- Fela’s birth name is Olufela Ransome-Kuti but he decided to denounce the name “Ransome” because it was affiliated with slavery.
- Fela’s mother Funmilayo Ransome-Kuti is renowned as the first prominent feminist in Nigeria, she protested actively against the anti-colonial movement in the 1940s and 1950s. she would become the first woman to drive a car in Nigeria.
- Although Fela was originally admitted to study Medicine in the United Kingdom like his brothers but he would decide to study Music at Trinity Music College in Dublin. That was where he developed interest in the trumpet and saxophone.
- Fela is a cousin of notable Nigerian writer and first African to win the Nobel laureate, Wole Soyinka.
- Fela married his first wife Remilekun Taylor in 1960 at the age of 22. They bore three children Femi, Yeni and Sola Kuti.
- Fela’s adopted name Anikulapo means “He who carries death in his pouch,” which interprets “I will be a master of my own destiny and will decide when it is time for death to take me.”
- He is the primary influencer of the 21st century Afrobeat and Afro pop genre which is mainstream in the music industry today.
- On February 20, 1978 married 27 women, they were commonly referred to as Queens. Those women were majorly his back-up singers, dancers and music composers at the time.
- In 1979, Fela volunteered for the role of President in Nigeria’s first elections in more than a decade but his candidature was denounced due to his infamous portrayal in the society. Prior to that he formed his political party called Movement of the People (MOP) in order to “clean up a society like a mop.” He preached practically “Africanism” and principles of Black Power.
- Fela’s death was announced on August 3, 1997 by his brother Dr. Olikoye Ransome-Kuti who was a minister of health in Nigeria at the time. Fela died a day earlier.
May Fela’s soul continually rest in peace, his voice still echoes frequently in the hearts of the people of the most populated black nation.