It has been 21 years since Fela Kuti joined his ancestors but Nigerians and his fans the world over have neither forgotten him nor his music. Social media was agog with his memory as people from across time zones reminisced on his person, message and how he affected Nigeria and the world.
Musician Daddy Showkey posted on his Instagram: “On behalf of the people’s power I declare today August 2nd Fela day whether you like or you no like”.
The Egypt80BandFanPage on twitter posted: “On this day, 21 years ago, Fẹlá Kútì transcended. We pour libation in honour of an enigmatic warrior spirit who gave all for justice and truth…abàmì ẹ̀dá d’òrìṣà… ‘For-ever lives Afrika’”
For DJ Neptune also on twitter: “As we all know Baba #FelaKuti leaves forever. He paved the way and we enjoying the fruit of his labour. Rest well Abami Eda”.
Countless other posts continued in the same vein. For instance, the twitter handle, @saso_mahloane twitted: “Your memory and songs lives on Fela… #felakuti it’s been 21 years…. You are still celebrateted ! #Fela”.
For @rossonero101 it was: “On this day 1997 Prophet Dr Liberator Fela Anikulapo Kuti rests. #Fela #felakuti #felakuti . Door of memory can’t be shut on your moments in the land of the living. RIP Fela-Kuti”.
@Wunder_Kid said: “On this day 1997, the fight for true democracy and survival of the average Nigerian ended. It’s never been the same ever since. #fela”.
And so the hashtags go on but who is Fela in a nut shell?
Born Olufela Olusegun Oludotun Ransome-Kuti on October 15, 1938 in Abeokuta, in present-day Ogun State, Nigeria Fela Kuti or Fela Anikulapo Kuti or just Fela, as he became popularly known, was aged 58 at the time of his death in 1997.
The Nigerian singer-songwriter, musician, activist; who was active from 1958 to 1997, originated Afrobeat and was adept at vocals and at playing the saxophone, keyboard, trumpet, guitar and drums.
He could have been a medical doctor like his brothers Beko Ransome-Kuti and Olikoye Ransome-Kuti, but he chose instead to become a musician having arrived London to study medicine but rather registered for a music course at the Trinity College of Music. He could have been a perfect gentleman like his father Reverend Israel Oludotun Ransome-Kuti, but chose to tow the activist line of his mother Chief Funmilayo Ransome-Kuti, who was a feminist activist in the anti-colonial movement.
So Fela life was one of choice, he did what he wanted and activism ran in his blood as he is a first cousin to Professor Wole Soyinka, the first African to win the Nobel Prize for Literature. But there are those who regard him as a prophet since they say he for saw all that the trials the country has been through and even the challenges it continues to face. It was for the same reason that he was never a friend to the powers that be who not only brutalised him but also did everything to silence him.
However, from all indication, Fela cannot be silenced, his music lives on in the consciousness of his fans, forever.
Meanwhile, the New Afrika Shrine is hosting a two-day show to remember Fela on the evening of August 2 and 3. What is more, the concert is free of charge. There are other shows cross the city of Lagos also dedicated to the memory of the Afrobeat legend.