The Legendary Afro pop Singer Fela Anikulapo Kuti died 21 years ago today, but his music and teachings lives on. We gathered a few intriguing facts about him for your read.
- He was born Olufela Olusegun Oludotun Ransome-Kuti on 15 October 1938 in Abeokuta, Ogun State, Nigeria.
- His mother, Chief Funmilayo Ransome-Kuti, was a feminist activist in the anti-colonial movement and the first female to drive a car in Nigeria.
- He is a first cousin to Nigerian writer and Nobel laureate Wole Soyinka, also a brother to Olikoye Ransome Kuti a former minister of health that set up the first psychiatric hospital in Nigeria, Aro Abeokuta.
- Interestingly, he was sent to London in 1958 to study medicine but decided to study music instead at the Trinity College of Music, the trumpet being his preferred instrument. While there, he formed the band Koola Lobitos, playing a fusion of jazz and highlife.
- Fela married his first wife, Remilekun (Remi) Taylor, with whom he would have three children (Femi, Yeni, and Sola).
- Fela discovered the Black Power movement through Sandra Smith (now Sandra Izsadore), a partisan of the Black Panther Party in 1969, when he took his band to Los Angeles, US
- He formed the Kalakuta Republic in the 70s, 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.
- In 1984, Muhammadu Buhari’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.
- He was released 20 months after by General Ibrahim Babangida, on his release he divorced his 12 remaining wives, saying that “marriage brings jealousy and selfishness”.
- Felabration is an annual music festival conceived in 1998 by Yeni Anikulapo-Kuti in memory and celebration of her father Fela Kuti, a Nigerian musician and human rights activist known for pioneering the afrobeat genre of music. The one-week-long event which is held annually at the New Afrika Shrine in Ikeja, attracts visitors from different countries and has thus been considered as an official tourist destination by the Lagos State Government.