Mabinuori Kayode IDOWU (aka ID) posted this fascinating student interview with some great archival footage of Fela, along with a short, critical essay (see below) on the entire “Fela revival.” Posted here for your thoughts:
The year 2010 saw the extraordinary explosion of the brand name FELA with the re-issue of his life’s work and the media success of the musical from Broadway to a London theatre. With all the euphoria around FELA, one major aspect missing is the emphasis on the man and what he stood for. From reports, Bill T. Jones did a great job with the musical from an aesthetic point of view however his representation of the man has nothing to do with Fela Anikulapo-Kuti.
Fela (in the musical) is portrayed as championing polygamy which was not the reason for his mass marriage, and projected as an indecisive man running to his mother for assurance and inspiration — this also was not Fela to those of us who knew him. Without any prejudice to the on-going legal battle, I believe Bill T. Jones and the producers of the musical were hoodwinked (like most readers) into believing Carlos Moore with his self proclaimed “authorized biography of Africa’s musical genius”.
My book ‘Fela, Why Blackman Carry Shit’ too was published with a written authorization from Fela and I did not portray Fela as an indecisive man nor sell it as THE authorized biography despite going to jail on countless occasions with Fela as part of our struggle. As a Fela biographer and Egypt 80 administrator at the time ‘This Bitch of Life’ was written and published (see page 148 new edition), I can say with certitude that Carlos Moore does not have any exclusivity to that claim of “authorized biographer” and I challenge anyone to say the contrary. In fact, Fela was not pleased with the way he was portrayed in the book and it was one of the reasons he broke contact with Carlos Moore until his demise in 1997.
With the arrival of the year 2011, and the expectation of the REAL explosion world-wide of Fela the man and what he stood for, we in Radio Shrine believe it is our duty as N°1 Federator of Afrobeat culture to shed light where Fela is concerned from our authentic knowledge of THE MAN. Thanks to archaeological excavations – the buried treasures of antiquity can again revisit the sun. In the same light – thanks to audio cassette from the Department of Political Science, University of Lagos Nigeria achieves Fela speaks again to us all.
You can listen to him in an interview backstage where he talked about his background, his music not for entertainment, and those apart from his immediate family whom he held in high esteem. Also you can listen to extracts of his songs ‘ODOO’ Overtake Don Overtake Overtake live and his unpublished work ‘BBC’ Big Blind Country. Finally, have a “ball” with him in a live “yabbis” session, all of these from the Pepple Street Africa Shrine in Ikeja. This video is first of a three part series dedicated to the unsung heroes of our struggle in Kalakuta Republic – all those young men and women who alongside Fela suffered consistent brutalities and arbitrarily jailed by the Nigerian police and army.
To our French speaking audience please bear with us, as we are doing everything possible to bring you Fela’s words — soon as the translations are ready.
While wishing you all a happy new year, we implore you dear folks to please pass the message!
Mabinuori Kayode IDOWU aka ID.