Late Fela Anikulapo Kuti is one of Nigeria’s greatest afrobeat musicians. Even in death, his music continues to reverberate in the minds of millions of not only Nigerians but also across the globe.
Some Nigerian artists have tried to imitate or be like Fela. However, their painstaking effort to be like Abami Eda has failed so far. Even Femi Kuti, the son of the great Fela can’t claim to be better than Fela let alone the likes of Burna Boy and Naira Marley who have oftentimes been compared with Fela. There are so many reasons why both of them or any other Nigerian artists don’t measure up to Fela. We highlight some of them.
Fela was more than a musician
For Fela Kuti, music was just one form of expressing that which he was born to do. Fela who was also a composer and a multi-instrumentalist pioneered a genre that has outlived him and carved a path that younger acts are utilising to successful heights today. Afro-beat is a genre of music that he created in 1968 to set him apart from any other sound at the time and this is a genre that lives on to date.
Fela was an activist who lived for the cause
With songs like ‘Zombie’, ‘Army Arrangement’, ‘Sorrow, Tears and Blood’, Fela rattled the powers that be. Zombie sparked off a series of government attacks that led to the death of his mother and the Abami Eda responded by delivering his mother’s coffin to Dodan barracks, which served as the commander in chief’s house at the time. He then went ahead to record more revolutionary songs like ‘Unknown Soldier’ and ‘Coffin for the head of state‘. Fela was always outspoken and got arrested several for his activism.
Fela became a culture, a way of life
His influence went far and wide that younger artists wanted, not just to be like him but to be him. Nigerians irrespective of their background or religion associated with the Abami Eda. The young ones adore him, tattoo his name and images on their body and frequently visit the African Shrine in recognition of his feats.
He has more legacies than your favourite artist
Fela’s name roared when he was alive, but after his death, it has further gotten recognition and reverence across the globe. There have also been ‘Fela in concert’, ‘Fela Kuti – Live at the shrine’, to name a few. In the arts, Fela had a 2013 museum exhibition in the United Kingdom in honour of him titled ‘The BlackPresident Exhibition’ which had over 15,000 pictures time-lining his life and journey displayed, and the annual ‘Felabration’ festival held in honour of his name.
Fela’s music evergreen
One can confidently say that Naira Marley and Burna Boy’s songs are likely not to outlive them. Not because they are not talented but because their music are made for quick bucks. They are not bothered about leaving a lasting legacy.