FELA ANIKULAPO KUTI

FELA ANIKULAPO KUTI THE MUSICAL REVOLUTIONARY

FOCUS: OLUFELA ANIKULAPO RANSOME KUTI NATIONALITY: NIGERIAN OCCUPATION: MUSICIAN (AFRO-BEAT FOUNDER) AND A REVOLUTIONARY DATE OF BIRTH: 15TH OCTOBER, 1938 PLACE OF BIRTH: ABEOKUTA, OGUN STATE PARENT: FATHER- ISREAL OLUDOTUN RANSOME KUTI MOTHER- FUNMILAYO RANSOME KUTI EDUCATION: ABEOKUTA GRAMMAR SCHOOL AND TRINITY COLLEGE OF MUSIC DATE OF DEATH: 2ND AUGUST, 1997 PLACE OF BIRTH: LAGOS STATE OLUFELA Anikulapo Kuti was born in the city of Abeokuta on the 15th October, 1938. His Parent Isreal Oludotun Ransome Kuti and Madam Funmilayo Kuti were important figures in the society. His father ISREAL OLUDOTUN Kuti was an Anglican priest and the first president of the Nigerian Union of Teachers. His mother Madam Funmilayo Ransome Kuti was a feminist and a human right activist, she was also known to be the first woman to drive a car in Nigeria and also joined in the fight for Nigeria independence. Fela has three siblings (two brothers and a sister) namely Dolu(female), Olikoye and Beko. Their parents planned on giving their male children the support to become medical experts later in life. His two brothers ended up becoming Medical doctors as planned by their parents but Fela changed his mind few days after arriving at England. Before his trip to England, at the age of 8, Fela learnt how to play the piano and drums. He was also the leader of the school choir. At the age of 17, Fela lost his father to cancer. His mother supported him all through his educational life. He had plans of studying medicine in England but after few days of getting to England, destiny took its place and Fela enrolled in Trinity College Of Music and took a course in classical music. Fela spent three years at the college. During his days in the U.K, he formed a band named “Fela Ransome Kuti and His Koola Lobitos”. This band had a great musical reputation in the U.K because of its Africa cultural introduction to music and was well enjoyed by the people of England. • FELA'S FIRST MARRIAGE Fela met his first wife Remilekun Taylor at a party in the U.K. Remilekun Taylor was a lady who was studying Secretary at the U.K. At the age of 23 years, Fela married Remilekun who was 20 years old then. Together, they had three Children named Yeni, Femi and Sola Ransome Kuti. When Fela returned to Nigeria, he worked at the Nigeria Broadcasting Corporation as a producer and at the same time he worked with a band. As a result of his love for music and his passion of being center staged performing in front of audiences, he resigned from the Nigeria Broadcasting Corporation and formed another band and maintained his U.K band name Koola Lobitos. Remilekun divorced Fela because of his manners regarding his smoking habit and most times his appearance whenever he performs. She took the responsibility of the three Children they both had and gave a rule that they (Children) can oy see their father once a week. • MADAM FUNMILAYO'S INFLUENCE ON FELA'S MUSIC Fela was inspired by his mother into becoming a human right activist and having the spirit of Pan-Africanism. Through his mother, Fela was able to meet with some of the important individuals in Africa. One of them is Kwame Nkrumah of Ghana.Fela also met with the famous young military revolutionary Thomas Sankara, whom he believed could influence the government of other Africa Nations with the policy of Africanism he adopted. His mother also influenced his music by telling him to change the genre of music he sings and told him to sing what the people would love to hear and improve the spirit of oneness in Nigeria. Fela obeyed his mother’s instruction and changed the genre of his song from Highlife Jazz to Afro-beats. He also changed his music band name from Fela Kuti and the Koola Lobitos to Fela Ransome Kuti and the African 70. Fela was also inspired by the African celebration styles of every African society and even their cultural attires. He was able to match this aspect of African style to his music performances. • THE CHANGE IN PERSONALITY After the end of Fela and The African 70 tour in America, he came back to Nigeria where he was able to change his personality totally and at the same time changed his form of music he sings to the music that deals with the things happening in Nigeria and Africa at large. He also sings to enlighten the citizens of Africa on what to do as citizens of the continent most especially against any anti-human activity by the government. • NAMING OF KALAKUTA APRIL 1974, Fela Kuti was arrested and was kept in a prison cell named “KALAKUTA”. After his release from prison, he returned to his home and named the building “THE KALAKUTA REPUBLIC”. He said the KALAKUTA REPUBLIC is a break away state because he was in charge of the activities that takes place in the building. Reports have it that inside KALAKUTA, there is a prison cell where he would lock up offenders. • FELA CARS. According to people close to Fela, he was said to have in his possession fourteen vehicles with all of them having his name and image boldly inscribed on them. Whenever he is on his way to a show or on a visit to someone or some places, he take along with him all his vehicles following themselves and showing awareness to the public • KALAKUTA ATTACK OF 1977. In early 1977, Fela and his band released a mini album titled “ZOMBIE” a music that was anti-military in nature. The sole reason for the release of the song was because of the blind obedience in carrying out orders that are against humanity given to them by the Head of State. In the music “ZOMBIE”, he urged all Nigerians to stand their ground against the military rule of General Olusegun Obasanjo. The Nigerian army were very furious and on the 18th February 1977, they gave Fela the response to the music he sang about them with force. The assumed number of the army officers involved in the attack on The Kalakuta Republic were said to be 1000. This attack was what led FELA’S mother Madam Funmilayo Kuti to be thrown through the Second floor window of the Kalakuta building and broke her leg as a result of the action. She couldn’t survive the pain from the injuries sustained and later on was in coma and as a result of that, she died 14 months after the incident. Witnesses said Fela was flogged naked all over his body, broke his arm, leg and sustained a head injury in the cause of the beating. It was also said that soldiers raped women in the building, destroyed their properties, beat people anyhow and also stole some of their valuable materials. • GHANA AND GERMANY ISSUE WITH FELA Despite the death of his mother, Fela continued with his music, continued writing lyrics and also began touring both locally and internationally. While on tour in Ghana, Fela performed his hit record “ZOMBIE” and the performance caused commotion in the whole nation of Ghana. This act made the then government of Ghana to give Fela a life ban from entering the country Ghana. Another incident happened when he was on tour in Germany at the Jazz festival in Berlin in the year 1979. His lawyer George Gardener (Ghanian) had warned him not to go on with his plan by giving his wives some placards having some ideological statement written on it. When J.K Braimah (FELA’S friend manager and also a German) was aware of his initial plan, he told him not to go ahead with his plans but Fela turned deaf ear to all they were saying and carried out his plan. This made the venue of the performance unfriendly. • FELA’S STRANGE MARRIAGE On the very first anniversary of the Kalakuta attack of 1977, Fela did a very strange and surprising action. He asked all the ladies in his house a question regarding marriage and told them all “if you want me to marry you, signify” at first they all thought he was joking and those who signified were married by him. The total number of women who he married were 27. This made his action widely surprising because it is only a strange person that can have a marriage with 27 women at once and also perform marital rites with all of them on the same day. The widely accepted reason for his action is to put an end to wrongly assumed believe that he abducted all the ladies in his residence. • FELA’S POLITICAL AMBITION Fela saw the political system of Nigeria as something he felt he could change with the support of his fellow Nigerians. In 1979, Fela formed a political party and named it “Movement of the People” (MOP) saying the abbreviation M.O.P is significant because he would mop away corruption in the country. Alongside some young Nigerians, Fela formed the party and made himself the Presidential flag bearer of M.O.P but was later turned down by the electoral commission. After his presidential aspiration were turned down, Fela called on all Africans to stand there ground against military rules. • FELA FORMING A NEW BAND (EGYPT 80) In the year 1979, Fela created a new band named the Egypt 80. The reason for this was because as an individual, he was inspired by the Egyptian civilization. It was with this band he released a song named I.T.T where he named Nigeria top people who were involved in corruption. • FELA’S ARREST On September 2984, on his way to the airport, he was arrested and charged with the crime of money laundering when he was about leaving Nigeria for the U.S. He was taken to face the military tribunal. After the case in tribunal, Fela was sentenced to 5 years in prison making it the longest prison term he had served. His imprisonment attracted international bodies against human rights violations. They stated his improvement as “political” because there was no concrete evidence to prove he was involved in the crime charged against him. Millions of people worldwide agitated for his release and after 20 months of international interference, he was released. • FELA'S DIVORCE. After his release from prison, Fela divorced all his wives when he had a new belief regarding poligamy. He believed that the institution of poligamous family only leads to jealousy and selfishness. • FELA’S SPIRITUALITY FOCUS Towards the end period of Fela, he reduced his music performances and focused more on his spirituality. He was a typical African traditional worshipper. Most times when he performs in the “SHRINE” for audiences, he was often seen with white powder all over his face most especially on his forehead, eyes region, his cheeks and his jaw area. Majority of the people close to him believed he was assuming the role of a traditional religious chief priest. The “SHRINE” also served as his place for spiritual consultation and worships. • FELA’S DEATH. 2nd August 1997, Fela Anikulapo Ransome Kuti died at the age of 58. According to medical reports from his brother Olikoye who also announced his death to the world, said from the results gotten, Fela died as a result of HIV/AIDS related complications. The people close to him strongly disagreed with the outcome of the result saying “Fela died as a result of often torture from the Head of States during his time alive”. Over One million people both locally and internationally attended FELA’S funeral. Even after his death, Fela Anikulapo Kuti legacy still lives on. In the current musical world, FELA’S legacy could be traced to the music modern day musicians sing. He has received more international recognition even after his death. His family house in “OGUN STATE” and “THE KALAKUTA REPUBLIC” are currently tourist centres in Nigeria because of the personalities who have in one way or the other emerged from those places.

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