Fela Kuti – Biography

Fela Kuti – Biography

Mise en page 1
Early life
Fela was born Olufela Olusegun Oludotun Ransome- Kuti
(what a mouthful! )on October 15th, 1938 in Abeokuta, Ogun State,
Nigeria, into an upper-middle- class family. His mother, Funmilayo
Ransome-Kuti was a feminist activist in the anti-colonial movement; his
father, Reverend Isreal Oludotun Ransome-Kuti, a protestant minister and
school principal, was the first president of the Nigeria Union of
Teachers. Fela was a first cousin to the Nigerian writer and Nobel
Laureate, Wole Soyinka, the first African to win a Nobel Prize for
Literature.

Career
Ironically, Fela was sent to
London in 1958 by his parents to study medicine, but he changed his mind
and decided to study music instead at the Trinity College of Music.
While there, he formed the band “;Koola Lobitos”;, playing a fusion of
jazz and highlife. In 1963, Fela moved back to Nigeria, re-formed &#
8220;Koola Lobitos”; and trained as a radio producer for the Nigerian
Broadcasting Corporation. He played for some time with Victor Olaiya and
his All Stars.
In 1967, he travelled on to Ghana to think up a
new musical direction. That was when Fela first called his music
“;Afrobeat”;. In 1969, Fela took the band to the United States where
they spent 10 months in Los Angeles. While there, Fela discovered the
Black Power movement through Sandra Smith (now Sandra Izsadore),
a partisan of the Black Panther Party. (The experience would heavily
influence his music and political views). After which, the band released
&# 8220; The ’;69 Los Angeles Session”;.
After
Fela and his band returned to Nigeria, the band was renamed The Afrika
’;70, as lyrical themes changed from love to social issues. He then
formed the “;Kalakuta Republic”;, which was seen as a commune, a
recording studio, and a home for the many people connected to the band
that he later declared independent from the Nigerian state. Fela set up a
nightclub in the Empire Hotel, initially called the “;Afro-Spot”; and
then later named the “;Afrika Shrine”;, where he both performed
regularly and officiated at personalized Yoruba traditional ceremonies
in honor of his nation&# 8217;s ancestral faith. He also changed his
middle name to Anikulapo (meaning “;He who carries death in his
pouch”;), stating that his original middle name of Ransome was a slave
name.
Fela’;s
music became popular among the Nigerian public and Africans in general.
In fact, he made the decision to sing in ‘;pidgin english”; so that his
music could be enjoyed by individuals all over Africa, where the local
languages spoken are very diverse and numerous. During 1972, Ginger
Baker recorded Stratavarious with Fela appearing alongside Bobby Gass.
In
1977, Fela and the Afrika ’;70 released the album &# 8220;Zombie”;,
a scathing attack on Nigerian soldiers by using the zombie metaphor to
describe the methods of the Nigerian military. The album was a smash hit
and infuriated the government, setting off a vicious attack against the
Kalakuta Republic, during which one thousand soldiers attacked the
commune. Fela was severely beaten, and his elderly mother was thrown
from a window, causing fatal injuries. The Kalakuta Republic was burned,
and Fela’;s studio, instruments, and master tapes were destroyed.
Fela&# 8217;s response to the attack was to deliver his mother’;s
coffin to General Olusegun Obasanjo’;s residence in the Dodan Barracks,
Lagos, and to write two songs tittled, “;Coffin for Head of State”; and
“;Unknown Soldier&# 8221;.
Fela and his band then took residence
in Crossroads Hotel after the destruction of the Shrine. In 1978, Fela
married twenty-seven more women, many of whom were his dancers,
composers, and singers to mark the anniversary of the attack on the
Kalakuta Republic.In 1960, Fela had already married his first wife,
Remilekun (Remi) Taylor, with whom he would have three children (Femi,
Yeni, and Sola). Later, he was to adopt a rotation system of keeping
only twelve simultaneous wives. The year was also marked by two
notorious concerts, the first in Accra, Ghana in which riots broke out
during the song “;Zombie”;, which led to Fela being banned from entering
Ghana. The second was at the Berlin Jazz Festival after which most of
Fela’;s musicians deserted him, due to rumors that Fela was planning to
use the entire proceeds to fund his presidential campaign.
Despite
the massive setbacks, Fela was determined to come back. He formed his
own political party, which he called Movement of the People. In 1979, he
put himself forward for President in Nigeria’;s first elections for
more than a decade, but his candidature was refused. At this time, Fela
created a new band called “;Egypt ’;80”; with which he continued to
record albums and tour the country. He further infuriated the political
establishment by dropping the names of the the vice-president Moshood
Abiola and then General Olusegun Obasanjo at the end of a hot-selling 25-minute political screed titled “;I.T.T. (International Thief-Thief)”;.
In 1984, Muhammadu Buhari&# 8216;s government, of which Kuti was a vocal opponent, jailed him on a charge of currency smuggling which Amnesty International and others denounced as politically motivated. Amnesty designated him a prisoner of conscience,
and his case was also taken up by other human rights groups. After his
release 20 months later by General Ibrahim Babangida, he divorced his
twelve remaining wivese
Once again, Fela continued to release
albums with Egypt ’;80, made a number of successful tours of the United
States and Europe and also continued to be politically active. In 1986,
Fela performed in Giants Stadium in New Jersey as part of the Amnesty International A Conspiracy of Hope concert, sharing the bill with Bono, Carlos Santana, and The Neville Brothers. In 1989, Fela and Egypt ’;80 released the anti-apartheid Beasts of No Nation album that depicts on its cover U.S. President Ronald Reagan, UK Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher and South African Prime Minister Pieter Willem Botha.
His
album output slowed in the 1990s, and eventually he stopped releasing
albums altogether. In 1993, he and four members of the Afrika ’;70
organization were arrested for murder. The battle against military
corruption in Nigeria was taking its toll, especially during the rise of
dictator Sani Abacha. Rumors were also spreading that he was suffering from an illness for which he was refusing treatment.
Death
On
August 2rd, 1997, Fela Kuti died from &# 8220;Kaposi’;s sarcoma”;,
which could be brought on, in more virulent form by AIDS. Fela’;s death
was announced the next day by his younger brother Olikoye Ransome-Kuti,who was already a prominent AIDS
activist and former Minister of Health. More than a million people
attended Fela’;s funeral at the site of the old Shrine compound. A new
Africa Shrine has opened since Fela’;s death in a different section of
Lagos under the supervision of his son Femi Kuti.
fela-kuti-live- recordings fela- kuti-14-450pk021610
Afrika-Boy-Hit-Em-Hard-Video-Fela-Kuti FELA
Discography

  • Gentleman (1973)
  • Confusion (1975)
  • Expensive Shit (1975)
  • He Miss Road (1975)
  • Zombie (1977)
  • Sorrow, Tears, and Blood (1977)
  • Shuffering and Shmiling (1978)
  • Black President (1981)
  • Original Sufferhead (1981)
  • Army Arrangement (1985)
  • Beasts of No Nation (1986)
  • The Best Best of Fela Kuti (1999)

Be the first to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.


*