“You can’t sing African music in proper English” – Celebrating Fela Kuti’s legacy with 10 of his greatest quotes

Photo: Amazon.com

Born on this day in 1938, Fela Anikulapo Kuti is described by many as a legend!

A pioneer of the Afrobeat genre of music, he was a man of many parts. His talent transcended music composition and the ability to play multiple instruments.

At the height of his fame, he was a revolutionary, human rights activist and a political maverick who stood up for what he believed in.

Birthed in an upper-middle-class family based in Ogun State, his mother, Chief Funmilayo Ransome-Kuti, was a feminist activist in the anti-colonial movement and his father, Reverend Israel Oludotun Ransome-Kuti was an Anglican minister and school principal, who was the first president of the Nigeria Union of Teachers. 

Starting his musical journey in 1958, he formed a band called Koola Lobitos which was a fusion of jazz and highlife. The band dominated the music scene in Lagos, Nigeria till the late 1970s.

It wasn’t until then that he collaborated with music band Afrika ‘70 to release the album Zombie, which was a scathing attack on Nigerian soldiers over their abuse of power. The use of the metaphor, ‘Zombie” described the Nigerian military and their mode of operation. These songs were directed mostly towards military rulers, General Olusegun Obasanjo, Gen. Sanni Abacha, Gen. Ibrahim Babangida and Gen. Muhammadu Buhari.

His major hits include Fela Fela Fela (1969), Fela’s London Scene (1971), Why Black Man Dey Suffer (1971), Live! (1971), Open & Close (1971), Shakara (1972), Roforofo Fight (1972), Afrodisiac (1973) and Gentleman (1973).

Kuti sadly died at the age of 58 years old in 1997 after a prolonged illness.

He will be remembered as an influential icon who was brave enough to boldly voice his opinions on matters that affected the nation through his music. An annual festival “Felabration” held each year to celebrate the life of this music legend and his birthday.

To commemorate his birthday, we bring you 10 of his powerful quotes

Last Edited by:Kent Mensah Updated: October 15, 2019


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