An African Giant

Hamid Ayodeji

A true legacy dies when it is about to birth a younger tribe, sprung from freedom seeking energy and spirits. As this is the time to be alive as a Nigerian and African, considering how African art is at its peak whilst being exported to the rest of the world for consumption once again, talking about ancient and modern art without looking at what Nigerian artists brought and are still bringing to the artistic world cannot hold much water.

Hence, taking a peek at the booming musical culture of the continent, it can be pointed out that Afro-beat has earned its place on the global stage, anchored by Nigerian artist such as, Fela Anikulapo Kuti whose era of Afro-beat sound spreading like wild fire globally, coupled with powerful sounds and lyrics showed the universe that Africa had a lot to teach and influence using art as the medium of expression.

Show casing a vibe that was not heard of or experienced yet as at that time; with his Instruments, dance, lifestyle, as well as passion he educated the world on the depth of which corruption had eaten its way down to the roots of the country and how the Armed forces harassed civilians who spoke up against the wrong doings of the government, at that time.

The phase of his physical assaults by the Armed Forces is in line with a cruel government that thinks not the social development and well being of its citizens which eventually led to a platoon of soldiers storming his Resident at Ojuelegba, (the first Kalakuta Republic) in order to brutalize the people they met.

This operation by the Nigerian Armed Forces that very day as far as history is concerned, recorded the death of Mrs Funmilayo Ransom Kuti, who leaped to the Heavens after she was thrown from the balcony of the building by soldiers.

“Zombie, oh, zombie, Zombie no go go unless you tell am to go, Zombie no go stop unless you tell am to stop. No brake, no jam, no sense,” he sang on his 1976 song titled, Zombie.

Funmilayo Ransom Kuti

The departure of Mrs Funmilayo Ransom Kuti from our world, during the 1978 military regime, at Felas’s Kalakuta Republic, took a part of him that could never be entirely replaced by any other feeling creating music and illuminating the world with his sound could ever offer.

Officially nobody was held accountable for this gruesome act. However, this did not stop the music god from searching for inner peace and clarity as shortly after, Fela was known to be affiliated with a Ghanaian sorcerer, Professor Hindu, who acted as his spiritual adviser.

According to his son, Femi Kuti, in Veal’s book, “Fela changed when Hindu came into his life. Everyone now got worried because Fela wouldn’t listen to anyone except for Hindu.

“My mother said I should come out of it because it was getting too diabolical and deceitful. But I told her ‘If I leave him now, it is possible he will get killed and we will lose him forever.’

I felt this because Hindu once told Fela that if he wore a special African bulletproof vest, they could shoot him and he wouldn’t die. To prove it, Hindu got a gun and put the jacket on a goat and fired six shots to show it really worked. Later, we found out he had used blanks. But my father thought this was wonderful and he wanted to put the jacket on himself. Luckily, his elder brother said “Let’s try it on another goat, just in case. So they took this double-barreled gun–and the goat died. And Fela cried and cried. Obviously, they were cheating him”

Fela Anikulapo kuti was not just any other musical genius; he always looked for perfection and justice in everything he was conscious of, which birth an evergreen culture that can never leave those it came in contact with.

 

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