Controversial, confrontational and a maverick personality are the adjectives that would best describe the career of the musical Taliban Fela Anikulapo-Kuti.
On October 15th, 1958 a legend was born into the wealthy class Ransome-Kuti family, Fela was the third child of the self-proclaimed feminist and the first woman to cruise a car in Nigeria, Chief Funmilayo Ransom-Kuti. He inherited his mortifying character from his mother and dexterous oratory flamboyancy from his father Rev. Israel Oludotun Ransom-Kuti who was a preacher and school principal.
Fela was sent to the United Kingdom to study Medicine like his other siblings but he would instead chase his passion which was music. Fela wanted to be a bridge between the citizens and the government, the voice for the voiceless and the lion that roars in the heart of a tamed cub, his music was unapologetic and his tongue didn’t spare any offender especially the politicians.
He was renowned for his showmanship, his music was a work of art that painted the onerous situations of Africans, the nefarious remnants of the colonial administration and the adversity of the authoritarian government at the time. He protested against corrupt government officials, he was imprisoned, lashed and wiped but the stern-hearted musician kept preaching his principles and ideologies across the nook and cronies of every country in Africa and Europe as well.
He enlightened the masses through his music, his lyrics had the ability to hypnotize the listeners and delivered them to fight against the myopic entrapment of the military brutality at the time. His music gave people power, courage and the elevation to connect with the supernatural. Fela was an outspoken activist with a pugnacious personality that several oppositions didn’t appreciate because of his guts.
Fela’s sacrifice, talent and contribution to the fundamental human right movement can never be undermined, it would eternally be a monument from generations to generations to come, no other musician can fill that role in the Nigerian music industry.
Prior to his death on August 2, 1997, Fela pioneered the Afrobeat genre which has influenced hundreds of singers in the country such as 2 Baba, MR Eazi, Davido, Burna boy, Wizkid, Tiwa Savage, as well Ghanaian singers Sarkodie, R2bees, VIP, etc are all enjoying the creative illustration of the rhythm connoisseur.
The legend would’ve been 80-years-old today but on August 2, 1997 he gave up the ghost. Despite his demise his legacy, charismatic personality and rhythmic voice still echoes vibrantly across our artwork, fashion, lifestyle and state of mind. Fela’s work still lives in our hearts, he is no longer with us physically but his vibes still radiate in the atmosphere.
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Happy birthday Legend!