Fela was so controversial that critics in Nigeria which are mostly the consumers of his music are usually divided. Watching a documentary, of him some time back and judging from what he says and his actions, I understood that Fela is a man who did what he wants. He also did it the way he wants, which may sound reckless to some but to some a beaming example of discipline to others.
Some call him mad, some call him prophet but Fela is a man with an odd but dope character. There is a word that goes round in Nigeria where I was born and brought up “people can follow an insane man if he is going the right way”. My mama is a real big fan of Fela Anikulapo Kuti and I could tell because she knew all his songs, lyrics for lyrics. What inspires me most about him is the fact that after twenty-one years of passing on, he keep making impact in the world of music. Fela became who he was by making good music and speaking for the masses. But like every good hero he had an Achilles heel. He was so controversial that critics in Nigeria which are mostly the consumers of his music are usually divided. Watching a documentary, of him some time back and judging from what he says and his actions, I understood that Fela is a man who did what he wants. He also did it the way he wants, which may sound reckless to some but to some a beaming example of discipline.
THE RECKLESS FELA
STYLING AND DRESS SENSE: A reader will want to ask how his styling and dress sense was reckless but I can tell you some mythical gossips from time passed. Fela was a man with a different kinds of fashion identity. He has a style which was a well-tailored Ankara long sleeved shirt and trouser which people still rock till date. He also had a funny way of enjoying himself at home in his white or multicolored undergarment pants. He always told people that he is in his house and he needs to be free. He entertained people in this odd look and faced the press in his semi birthday cloth. I was in a popular public transport vehicle in Nigeria called “Danfo” two years ago and a person said “Fela is a mad man”. The lady said so stating his fashion sense as the denominator for her calling him mad.
SMOKING AND WOMEN: He also hard the issue of smoking and getting high before, during and after a performance. Adding to that, Fela had one known wife before getting married to twenty-seven ladies in one day. He loved women and sang a lot about them. A single like “shakara” was inspired by women although I cannot state categorically it was because of his love for them. He was always a good smoker and a womanizer; painting a clear picture of a reckless individual to some critics.
THE DISCIPLINED FELA
FELA IS A SEASONED MUSICIAN: People might have different definition for a musician but I have mine. A musician is a person who knows how to make good melodious sound with meaning using his voice and a good instrument weather digital or analog. Fela was complete with his music. I once listened to him solo with a keyboard and was like wow. Watching him play a base saxophone is epic and what more when you watch him play a tenor saxophone. To learn any instrument; time, dedication and discipline is really important and Fela gave this time to his music. He was detailed to the core when it came to his music. He had long hours of rehearsals and preparations for his shows and could go as far as slapping someone playing a wrong sound. Fela was disciplined to his genre of music that is why he could produce songs of the same sound and had good result defying the law insanity.
FELA HATED OPPRESSION: Fela’s was a man who hated oppression of any kind. From individuals, countries, races and whatever you can think of. He spoke of oppression and suffering of the people of Nigeria and in the world. He talked of human rights in one of his songs; stating that most people claiming to give humans human rights behave like animals. He added in a verse that animal can’t give him human rights. He hated oppression to the core and fought it with all. He was once in once in jail for what he believed in.
FELA WAS FOCUSED AND HAD ZERO WORTH FOR LUXURIOUS LIFE: Fela took his music outside of Africa to the world. He headlined shows in London and in African countries because he had focus. He left his initial field of study to do music and was fully focused. He had no value high living standards. He was a man who really never gave a damn about properties and living large. He only wanted music and the message behind the song. Fela will go to his African Shrine in a car that should be in a recycling yard. I have also heard from numerous gossip sources that he once bought a trending car and converted it to a pickup van to dispose refuse. He lived in a meager house in Nigerian with all his wives just like a peasant even when he had enough money to buy a better house in any place in Lagos at that time. He was about the music, no wonder every musician in the world especially in America and Nigeria knows the name FELA.