As far as I can remember, the name “Fela” brings to my ears the sound of trumpets, a brass band, something about excess, pride and passion. Is it the furiously personal style, the women, the saxophone, the raw sexuality, the body? I guess it’s a mix of it all. Forty years later what remains of the fantastic Fela Anikulapo Kuti? The Ziggy Stardust of Awolowo Road? The prince of Afrobeat. Afrobeat, this odd and frivolous jazz of Funk, Yoruba language and nights of independence. When I hear AfroBeat, I think Kwame Nkrumah, Silvanus Olympio, George Padmore, Ahmed Sekou Toure in the years before the independence. Before they all became corrupted, murderers, murdered, socialist, anarchists or simply forgotten.
The 1960s were years of social and political uproar in the western world. Too many have forgotten how very similar these years were in the not yet independent Ghana, Nigeria, Cameroon, Kenya, Cote d’Ivoire, Togo, Tanzania, so on and so forth.
But where there is uproar, there is change, evolution in one way or another. Contraction before expansion. The 1960s 1970s were by far the most creative years in post-modern Africa.
But I will get back on the subject of creativity in the 60s and 70s in another note. For the time being I just want to recall this cold and gloomy night of winter in 2008. The night when I saw one of the descendent of this dynasty of gifted men. He was twisting, twisting, twisting. His body similar to a supple creeper; his shape and energy captivating for both men and women alike. He was Seun Kuti. He made me think of the High Life.