Fela Ransome-Kuti remains nevertheless one of the most symbolic African personalities of the twentieth century. Brilliant musician, creator of the afrobeat, the nigerian singer will use the music as a strong weapon for african matters.
Fela Ransome-Kuti was meant to be a doctor, an upstanding member of Nigeria’s elite like his father, an Anglican pastor who had founded the Nigeria Union of Teachers, and his mother, an aristocrat, nationalist and fiery feminist who had won the Lenin peace prize. His two brothers were already committed to the medical profession to which he was likewise promised.
At 20 Fela Ransome-Kuti would study in England, where his first cousin, Wole Soyinka, was already making waves as a literary lion. Instead, Fela Ransome-Kuti became infamous, an outlaw musician who declared himself president of his own “Kalakuta Republic“, a sprawling compound in the suburbs of Lagos that housed his recording studio and offered sanctuary to the dispossessed.
At his club, “The Shrine”, his band played until dawn while dozens of singers and dancers writhed and glittered amid drifts of igbo smoke. Here, Nigeria’s corrupt dictators were denounced and ancient Yoruban deities honoured, all to a relentless backdrop of the “Afrobeat” that Fela Ransome-Kuti had distilled from the musical collision of Africa and black America
” women are a source of power inspiration & pleasure.”
Fela Ransome-Kuticould not stick to one woman, he said and I quote ” women are a source of power inspiration & pleasure.”.
He once married 27 women at the same time. His music and outspokenenness made him a hero to Africa’s poor, but he would pay a high price for his insurrectionary micro-republic, which was repeatedly raided, and he and his followers would be arrested and beaten.
“Fela Ransome-Kuti defiantly established a short-lived political party and continued to spar with the authorities.”
In early 1977, the military junta had had enough – Fela’s record Zombie, mocking the army’s do-as-you’re-told mentality, may have been the tipping point for head of state General Obasanjo, who had once been in the same primary school class as Fela. A thousand soldiers overwhelmed Kalakuta, brutalising and raping as they went, then razing the compound to the ground. Fela Ransome-Kuti was beaten close to death, and his elderly mother thrown from an upstairs window, afterwards dying of her injuries. Fela Ransome-Kuti defiantly established a short-lived political party and continued to spar with the authorities. “ITT (International Thief Thief)”, for example, deplored the exploitation of Africa by multinationals.
“Later still, Fela Ransome-Kuti became a student of the spirit, only leaving home to play twice a week at the Shrine.”
Increasingly, he carried his music and message to an international audience, though the west’s media acclaim was never matched by record sales or stadium concerts. Tours that entailed a 50-strong entourage and albums of 20-minute songs didn’t help. Nor did his imprisonment for two years on trumped-up currency charges on the eve of a 1984 world tour.
Later still, Fela Ransome-Kuti became a student of the spirit, only leaving home to play twice a week at the Shrine.
Source : @hamamatafrica