Fela has finally exposed himself! – RFI Music

Until June 11, 2023, the Cité de la Musique in Paris presents the exhibition “Fela Kuti, Afrobeat Rebellion” dedicated to the late Fela Anikulapo Kuti, who died in 1997 and is one of the pillars of the “Black Music Saga”. through the testimonies of his contemporaries and friends, this week we immerse ourselves in the artistic universe of a rebellious Nigerian whose activism still awes and fascinates.

Alexandre Girard-Muscagorry is responsible for the African, Asian, Oceanian and American collections at the Musée de la Musique in Paris. He is also the co-curator of the exhibition. It describes Fela’s commitment to his works and sheds light on his social and political influence in the mid-20th century: “For Fela, music had no meaning if it did not serve the development of society, if it did not serve the causes he fought for. During the 1970s and 1980s, he spoke out against the corruption of political and economic elites in Nigeria, but also in Africa and eventually around the world. He presented himself as the voice of the most insecure people. Therefore, his music has always been rooted in civil struggles. These two aspects are inseparable. We date Fela’s warning to the late 1960s, when he moved to the United States and met Sandra Smith, who entrusted him with a biography of Malcolm X, and various Afro-centric publications that sought to change the classic narrative of African history. to mobilize blacks against colonialism. From 1976, Fela really got involved in Nigerian political life. He founded a youth platform called Young African Pioneers (YAP), originally inspired by the Young Pioneers of Ghana founded by Kwame Nkrumah. He brings together a number of activists and also writes a thirty-page manifesto outlining a highly structured Nigerian society.

© Leo Bernard/RFI

Alexandre Girard-Muscagorry, co-curator of the exhibition.

Fela will constantly try to go outside the box and experiment. He will never be satisfied with consensus and monotony. Mabinuori Kayode Idowu, nicknamed “IS”, was one of the relatives of the “Black President”, whom he met in 1974. He saw his friend’s whims and artistic performances very closely in the fight. Now an intrepid septuagenarian, ID recalls the founding of Yap News, an opinion newspaper of which he was editor: “When we created this magazine, all political gatherings were banned. So our idea was to use Yap News to inform and mobilize the youth. We wanted to prove that there is an alternative to colonialism. Fela was certainly an artist, but his estate, Kalakuta, had become the seat of social and political rebellion. He was not a politician, but he could easily discuss any topic with his interlocutors or critics.

© Leo Bernard/RFI

Mabinuori Kayode Idowu, former partner of Fela and coordinator of Yap News.

Fela Kuti became a symbol of the struggle against oppression in the early 1980s. France supported his positions and welcomed him with open arms. His image of a brave survivor, juggler and boaster suits him as long as he stands up for his cause. He meets and trusts young collaborators to expand his repertoire and enhance his aura. Sodi Marciszewer, Femi Kuti’s current producer, was one of the architects of this turnaround: “Fela’s Afrobeat is committed music, full of energy, persistent. His rebellion is not only expressed in his texts. This is present in the way he composed, orchestrated, instrumentalized his songs, and led his musicians.

© Leo Bernard/RFI

Sodi Marciszewer, Fela’s former artistic collaborator.

The exhibition “Fela Kuti, Rebellion Afrobeat” does not perpetuate the pan-African spirit. Brings it to life!

Fela Kuti, Afrobeat Rebellion exhibition at the Cité de la Musique in Paris.

© Joe Farmer/RFI

Fela’s discography is on display at the Cité de la Musique.

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