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Fela Kuti: The Reckless and Disciplined Music Legend of Nigeria

Fela Kuti

Fela Anikulapo Kuti, the Nigerian music icon and political activist, continues to inspire generations of musicians and activists with his timeless music and unwavering fight against oppression. Despite passing away over two decades ago, his legacy remains relevant today, and his music continues to be celebrated around the world. However, Fela’s life was not without controversy, as he lived a lifestyle that was both reckless and disciplined. In this article, we explore the duality of Fela’s life, delving into his unique fashion sense, his love for smoking and women, his musical prowess, his hatred for oppression, and his focus on music over material possessions.

Fela’s Reckless Side

Fela was known for his unconventional fashion sense, which included a well-tailored Ankara shirt and trousers, multicolored undergarment pants, and semi-birthday clothes. His eccentric style earned him the reputation of a madman among some critics, but to others, it was an example of his free-spirited nature. Fela was also a heavy smoker and womanizer, which added to his controversial persona.

Fela’s Disciplined Side

Fela was a talented musician who devoted hours to rehearsals and preparations for his shows. He was a seasoned musician who could play various instruments, including the keyboard, bass saxophone, and tenor saxophone. He was disciplined in his genre of music, producing songs with a unique sound that defied the laws of insanity. Fela’s music reflected his passion and dedication to the art.

Fela’s Hatred for Oppression

Fela was a vocal critic of oppression in all its forms. He spoke out against oppression in his music, calling for an end to the suffering of people in Nigeria and around the world. He was particularly passionate about human rights, condemning those who claimed to give humans rights but behaved like animals. Fela was once imprisoned for standing up for what he believed in, demonstrating his unwavering commitment to his cause.

Fela’s Focus on Music over Material Possessions

Fela was not interested in living a luxurious lifestyle or accumulating wealth. He was focused solely on his music, which he took outside of Africa to perform in London and other African countries. Fela lived in a modest house in Nigeria with all his wives, despite having enough money to buy a better one. He drove a car that should have been in a recycling yard and reportedly converted a trending car into a pickup van to dispose of refuse. Fela’s life was a testament to his belief that music and the message behind it were more important than material possessions.

In conclusion, Fela Anikulapo Kuti was a complex individual whose life was reckless and disciplined. His unique fashion sense, love for smoking and women, musical prowess, hatred for oppression, and focus on music over material possessions were all part of his legacy. Fela’s music continues to inspire generations of musicians and activists, and his message of freedom and justice remains relevant today.


Valentine Chiamaka

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