“It was when I was in a police cell at the C.I.D. (Central Intelligence Division) headquarters in Lagos; the cell I was in named “The Kalakuta Republic” by the prisoners. I found out when I went to East Africa that “Kalakuta” is a Swahili word that means “rascal.” So if rascality is going to get us what we want, we will use it; because we are dealing with corrupt people, we have to be rascally with them.”
― Fela Anikulapo Kuti
“Privatization in Nigeria is selling the Government to individuals. And with the debt equity swap, the World Bank is ruining my country with what it owns; it means my country is on the market. I’ve never seen that before, historically. It’s happening in Nigeria, Ghana, and these leaders accept this arrangement. Which makes me feel that they are agents for the Western system: they do everything, they have the guns to persecute, and people become poorer and poorer, which is making life difficult for Africans.”
“That’s why I use politics in my music. That’s the only way a wider audience will get acquainted with the important issues. It makes sense culturally as well. In Africa, we don’t sing really about love. We sing about happenings. That’s the tradition: there are no love songs like ‘Darling, Kiss Me.”
“It just shows how low the mentality of my country’s leaders was. I thought they had developed a little bit of sense.”
Talking to the press after his release. He was charged with murder in 1993
“I don’t tell lies against anybody. That’s why I always win all my wars.” After all charges (amongst others) of abduction, murder, armed robbery, willful damage to Army property, possession of drugs and resisting arrest were dropped following his arrest after the ‘unknown solider’ incident.
Fela’s sarcasm on a possible reason for the love-hate relationship between the Nigerian military and himself.
“When you are a colonial boy, you don’t know anything about your own culture”
“I saw that colonial education and upbringing, which America was involved in too, was very badly wild. History starts with Mungo Park `discovering’ the Niger! This pushed me so much I said I wanted to die in the struggle.”
Fela talking to people in Shrine
“To be spiritual is not by praying and going to church. Spiritualism is the understanding of the universe so that it can be a better place to live in.”
“Sex is a gift of nature. Why do men make laws to check it? A law telling you where to fuck and another telling you when to fuck.”
Now, there is a lot of violence between the armed forces, the police and the citizens. If I became president now I would immediately pass a law that makes every citizen a policeman or a soldier. Today’s society has so many laws and so many institutions, but Africa needs a different approach before it can develop as a continent.”
Its programm has Black president
“Look, we’re very backward. The African continent is degenerating into what I call the era of second slavery. And it’s caused by a conspiracy of Western Governments on one side and illegal African Governments on the other side, operating without a constitution. My Government is like that, a military Government that runs the country by decree.”
Talking to journalists at New York in 1989, before performing at the Apollo Theater in a benefit for James Brown.
“My name is Fela Anikulapo-Kuti. Black president or Chief Priest of Shrine.”
Fela’s introduction of himself.
“I don’t treat women as objects to be used. I just don’t agree to posses a woman.”
Quoted in Henry Uzomah, ‘The worlds of Fela’.
Fela Anikulapo Kuti (15 Oct 1938 – 2 Aug 1997), or simply Fela, was a Nigerian multi-instrumentalist musician and composer, pioneer of afrobeat music, human rights activist, political maverick & leader of Fela Ransome Kuti & Africa ‘70.
An afro-beat pioneer, Fela was considered one of the most influential artists of the 20th century. Born to politically active parents in 1938, Kuti later went to London to study medicine, but switched to music. While in college he formed his first band which introduced a sound that married jazz, funk and the West African traditional music, later to be called afro-beat.
While visiting the United States in 1969, Kuti was introduced to the Black Power movement, which would strongly influence his beliefs and music moving forward. He soon became a target of the Nigerian government due to the confrontational lyrics in his songs. His house was burned down and he was beaten by soldiers on multiple occasions. But he kept doing what he did best, make great music with a strong message of the poeple.
To many, his voice and words were as important as Bob Marley’s were. Fela Kuti died of complications from AIDS on August 2, 1997.
- Fela Kuti: With almost 50 (fifty!) of Fela Kuti’s albums set to be reissued in three batches throughout this year, a new generation is being given the chance to discover the Nigerian Afrobeat innovator’s music.
- Rita Marley To Attend Felabration (msmediacreationsite.wordpress.com)
- Portraits: Kalakuta Queens, Circa 2011
- Thanks, but no thanks: Ekpo, Kuti families oppose CBN planned currency review