Fela is an icon
Fela Kuti was born Olufela Olusegun Oludotun Ransome-Kuti in Abeokuta, Nigeria. He lived from Oct. 15, 1938, to Aug. 2, 1997. Also known as Fela Anikulapo Kuti or simply Fela, he was a Nigerian multi-instrumentalist, musician, composer, pioneer of the Afrobeat music genre, human rights activist and political maverick. Fela is one of Nigeria’s most prominent artists, and 20 years after his death, his work still remains relevant. Here are 10 things you should know about him.
1. He first referred to his music as ‘Afrobeats’ in 1969
2. He tried to contest for President in 1979 but his candidature was refused.
3. Fela named his compound ‘Kalakuta republic’. The word ‘Kalakuta’ was derived from a prison cell named Calcutta that Fela inhabited. He declared the Kalakuta Republic independent of the Nigerian Government when he returned from the US in 1970.
4. His political consciousness inspired him to change what he called his “slave name” Ransome and adopt the middle name “Anikulapo,” meaning “to have control over death,” in the late 1960s.
5. Fela was sent to London in 1958 to study medicine. He decided to study music instead at the Trinity College of Music.
6. Fela married 27 women in a joint ceremony and divorced them all 1o years later
7. In 1979, he formed his own political party – MOP (Movement of the People).
8. In March 1980, Fela accepted a police invitation to serve as a member of the Police Public Relations Committee.
9. His first band was called ‘Koola Lobitos’
10. In the Kalakuta Republic, Fela had a little wooden cell called ‘Kala-Kusa’ where he kept those who erred.