Fela Anikulapo Kuti (15 October 1938 – 2 August 1997) is unarguably one of the greatest music legends that ever graced the face of the earth.
He was a rear gem, one who entertained hundreds of millions of people around the world with his rich tunes, powerful vocals and unique instrumental rendition. But Fela didn’t just entertain, he was also a Pan-African who used his music to expose the ills of society and the corruption of successive military dictatorship and comprador bourgeoisie who exploited the African continent and his home land, Nigeria.
He was a constant thorn in the flesh of Nigerian military leaders all through his active years, fighting the guns with music. He was a voice of conscience and conscious awakening.
Fela was one who dared to speak against the powers that be; and although he suffered dearly for this, losing his mother during a military raid of his home, imprisonment, assault and is on record to have appeared in court about 500 times.
He was constantly beaten and jailed by the military governments in his country for speaking the truth.
Despite his ordeal in the hands of the military government, Fela was never silenced and stood to his call to be the voice of the oppressed. He is known for many quotes, among which is the phrase “Music is the weapon of the future.” They broke his bones but could not break his spirit.
Fela died in 1997 and his burial which was supposed to be a small family affair attracted more than one million people from around the world.
Things have not changed in Nigeria and other parts of Africa since Fela’s death, but there has not been any one who took over from where Fela stopped.
Musicians of this dispensation have chosen to ply the easy route and sing about wealth and women; and this has further caused moral decadence in society.
But Folarin Falana, popularly known as Falz TheBahdGuy has dared to be different and have gone ahead to put his feet in the sacred shoes of the great Fela Anikulapo Kuti.
Like Fela, Falz schooled abroad but did not allow himself to be brainwashed by the colonial mentality. He sings in pidgin just as Fela despite studying Law abroad and focuses on addressing societal ills through music rather than go with trend.
Falz has picked the mic from where Fela left it and calls out the corrupt leaders in Nigeria without fear just like the Afrobeat legend did in his days. Is this the new Fela?
Africans need a voice, and like Fela said in one of his songs ‘we need to stop suffering and smiling’. We need to ask the hard questions and hold our leaders accountable because enough is enough.
The political class continues to take the citizens for granted, and we are often too quiet about it.
Falz has just released a song titled ‘Talk’ which broke the internet. The song is a track from his upcoming album titled 'Moral Instruction' – which is his 4th solo album.
In the song, Falz addressed issues surrounding Nigeria’s politics – it’s corrupt and power drunk leaders, religious violence, fraud, nepotism, etc.
The album is a follow up to his controversial 2018 audio/visual song titled “This Is Nigeria”, inspired by American rapper Childish Gambino’s hit - “This Is America”.
A few days after the release of “This is Nigeria”, it was banned by the National Broadcasting Commission (NBC), and a group identified as the Muslim Rights Concern group (MURIC) threatened to take him to court because of the song’s content.
Rather than deter him, Falz has bounced back with an even deadlier blow in ‘Talk’, something Fela was known for.
He may have not experienced anything compared to the level of torture and abuse Fela Kuti endured, but Falz is indeed a bold individual – the type of artistes Africa truly needs in these trying times.
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