By Damilola Faustino
Fela Anikulapo Kuti was born by the name Olufela Olusegun Oludotun Ransome-Kuti on 15 October 1938 and passed away on 3 August 1997 due to Kaposi’s sarcoma. He was a Nigerian multi-instrumentalist, political nonconformist, human rights activist, musician, composer and pioneer of the Afrobeat music genre.
There is no doubt that the Afrobeat pioneer has paved the way for many musicians in Nigeria and throughout Africa. In celebration of Felabration, which begins next weerk, we highlight 10 things you probably didn’t know about the legendary pioneer of Afrobeats, Fela Anikulapo Kuti:
1. Fela Anikulapo Kuti was born by the name Olufela Olusegun Oludotun Ransome-Kuti on 15 October 1938 and passed away on 3 August 1997 due to Kaposi’s sarcoma. He stated that “Ransome” was his slave name and his middle name, Anikulapo means “He who carries death in his pouch”.
2. His father, Reverend Israel Oludotun Ransome-Kuti was the first president of the Nigeria Union of Teachers and was an Anglican minister. His mother, Funmilayo Ransome-Kuti was a feminist activist.
3. He studied music at the Trinity College of Music in London. He is the cousin to Wole Soyinka, a Nigerian writer and Nobel laureate.
4. He married his first wife, Remilekun Taylor in 1960 and they were blessed with 3 children. Later on, to mark the anniversary of the attack on the Kalakuta Republic, Fela married 27 women at once in 1978.
5. He formed the band “Koola Lobitos” which played highlife and jazz music. He also trained as a radio producer for the Nigerian Broadcasting Corporation.
6. He established a commune called “The Kalakuta Republic” which became a home and record studio for the members of the band. He later on, set up a nightclub called “The Afrika Shrine” where he performed regularly.
7. He released his smash hit album “Zombie” in 1977 featuring Afrika ’70. The album infuriated the government and caused more attacks on the Kalakuta Republic.
8. He had two notorious concerts; one in Accra which ended with a riot and led him to be banned from Ghana and the other was the Berlin Jazz Festival which led to his band members deserting him.
9. In 1984, he was jailed for currency smuggling and was designated as a prisoner of conscience. He was later released by General Ibrahim Babangida. In 1986, he performed at the Amnesty International A Conspiracy of Hope concert in New Jersey.
10. He formed his own political party called “Movement of the People” and in 1979, he put himself forward in Nigeria’s first elections for Presidency.
Read also: Why You Cannot Miss This Year’s Felabration
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