In every generation, God usually position certain individuals who are sent with specific message to that generation, Fela was just that person for Nigeria.
Fela Anikulapo-Kuti died in August 1997. Nigeria lost one of its most controversial and inspirational cultural figure, Afrobeat, his music and activist lifestyle pitched him in constant battles against the Nigerian military authorities.
Fela’s name alone was a nightmare for the military. Anikulapo means ‘I have death in my pocket’. And as he often did, ‘I will be the master of my own destiny and will decide when it is time for death to take me’. When he died in August of that year at the age of 58, Fela appeared to fulfil the prophecy implicit in his name, and the manner of his death was as dramatic and unruly as the manner of his living.
But twenty years after, he is still being celebrated, lots of his fans still believe he is not dead.
Hear what they say about the life and times of Fela Anikulapo Kuti.
Mr Dayo Olawale, Executive Director of an advertising agency in Lagos said, “I should say that this generation has been blessed with that enigma, as a musician activist, Fela was a social crusader, who through his music was able to impact passively on our society, his message of social equality and egalitarianism , his brand of music is a source of inspiration to everyone around here including those who may not really like him because of his personal philosophy when it comes to issues of moral, not only to our generation but the one to come as well, I just pray that God Almighty will grant him eternal repose .
Well, to some people Fela was a prophet of sort, many of us saw him a generational prophet who saw many years ahead, if you still play his music today you will find out that his lyrical contents still fit into the contemporary situations in the county today, this speaks volume of his ability to see tomorrow while he was alive, so if he was to be alive today he would have been vindicated by all he stood for, what he preached and what he was condemning then are still very much with us till date only God knows when we will have a positive turn around in this nation.
Temitayo Bamide, a postgraduate student of Centre for Sustainable Development (CESDEV) University of Ibadan, said, though he was not really of age when Fela was around but he could tell a little about the person of Fela through his music which is still very much relevant till tomorrow.
“He was a music artiste who used music as an instrument for activism especially during the military era, correcting the ills in government as at then, Fela can be referred to as a good man who during his life time used his profession for positive impact in the Nigerian society.
As at last week , WizKids and other musicians during Felabration still sang tribute song to honour him ,we all join them to celebrate this rare gem because he is worthy of celebration” , Tayo reiterated.
Dr Jide Johnson, Deputy Provost, Nigerian Institute of Journalism said,” Fela is not dead, Fela is still alive, creative people don’t die, they live forever, Jesus Christ who died over 2000 years ago is still alive today, Prophet Mohammed who died less than 2000 years ago is still alive today, Martin Luther king Jnr. died some decades ago ,today he still alive, dreamers don’t die, visionaries don’t die, Nelson Mandela died few years ago ,he is still alive, so if Fela is dead nobody will be celebrating him.
“What he has done politically, musically, socially, about African consciousness and the value of African culture, African liberation, African music called Afrobeat, he is still alive, very much alive.
You know I tell my students that Fela was a prophet, if we are to document and organise Fela’s work into verses, it will be gospel according to saint Fela, just like we have gospel according to Saint Luke, Saint John, Saint Peter and so on, you will also have gospel according to saint Fela, because Fela helped to conserve Nigeria politically, economically, socially and all his prophesies had come to pass, so Fela is alive.
“What he fought for is being achieved, one area I may want to agree that what he fought for has not been achieved is that, it would have been interesting if Fela were to be alive and Buhari is to contest for President, I would have seen what would have been his reaction, you know when you recall one of his classic music,’ beast of a nation’, but then development is an ongoing process, success is an ongoing process, so as far as what he fought for we are still experiencing some of them today, with his ability to see the future because we can’t deny the fact that each time you listen to his music there is this fire that is set up in your bone by his lyrics, fighting for our rights, asking for good governance, that consciousness is there.
“One thing about Fela that I want the present day musicians to emulate is that he had the skill, he had the talent and he got Western education ,so that’s a challenge to the people in the music industry today, no matter how talented you are, you need education”.
An activist, Comrade Chris Onyeka, who is also the Assistant Publicity Secretary of United Labour Congress of Nigeria ( ULC),believes Fela was 30 years ahead of his generation, he said he lived ahead of his time, “like the prophets of old, he saw ahead ,sang about it ,preached about it, but nobody listened ,Fela loved Nigeria, he lived and died for the country, his songs are immortal.
“Fela was an inspiration to the civil society, to the labour movement, the entire African and beyond, a spiritual guard, an enigma, a prophet and God sent to this generation, either they listened to his prophesies is another kettle of fish.
“I know Fela will be feeling so bad in his grave today that we did not listen to all he was saying then, all he said about corruption, the economy, the ruling class and the present situation in the country today”.
Referring to an effigy unveiled by the Lagos State Governor, Mr Akinwunmi Ambode, of the late Afrobeat legend erected at the Allen Avenue Roundabout, the activist said, “when Lagos state government thought it has done the best to immortalize him by building an headless statue of him, I say the kind of memorial Fela would love to see is not an headless statue of himself, Fela would want to see a better country that practice what he was preaching about good governance then.
“I see it as an insult rather, that Lagos state government built an headless statue to immortalize Fela because all the things he did were from his head , so it is an insult to Fela’s head to be cut off as sign of immortalization. My song today is ‘God send another Fela, we are so tired here’”, Chris affirmed.