By Olumoroti Olatujoye
Felaberation is an annual music festival held in celebration of Nigerian music legend Fela Anikulapo Kuti known for pioneering the afrobeat genre of music. The yearly event is a celebration of his music, his struggle, his inspiration, art, culture, family and lifestyle.
Fela was sent to London in 1958 to study medicine, but he took his destiny into his hands and decided to study music instead at the Trinity College of Music, the trumpet being his preferred instrument. It was during his stay in London he formed the band Koola Lobitos, playing a fusion of jazz and highlife and the rest is history as he travelled and studied more about the Black Panther Movement which heavily influences his music and political views.
The celebration was conceived in 1998 by Yeni Anikulapo. And over the years it has become one of the biggest annual celebrations in the country, where every reputable musician performs during the one week duration.
As great as this celebration is, it seems that in the hustle to make music, our musicians forget what the great legend stood for, and how much more than financial reasons the music legend had used his music as a tool for change.
In a generation where our artists do not care about music as a tool for social change, it is hard or almost impossible to feel the vibe of the great Fela during some performances.
Fela’s music was a mirror of the society; a 15-year-old could pick up his albums and tell the situation of things in the country at the time the music was made. He stood for everyone, he was an artist in totality.
To celebrate such a soul, what better way could we celebrate than to sing songs that bring about unity, peace, growth, and stood for change. Unfortunately the celebration has not been able to showcase that the Legend had indeed left a legacy worth following.
Rarely do we have musicians who sing about social change, or who give our leaders sleepless night and who want to help in change than to make more and buy expensive things.
I could have written about what the celebration could be like, but in all honesty who can figure out that. Fela’s shoes are too big to fit into and it could be difficult to even try, but this short article is an appeal to the artist that represents us.
There’s so much to write and sing about in the society, so much to be said that would give us strength, purpose and unity, but instead we decide to sing about ladies with “Thicker Bodies” and threaten to kill our brother because of deals gone wrong.
Felabreation should be a day when we reboot our sense of patriotism for the rest of the year, it should be a ‘ginger’ to push us through the happening in the country. It should be a place for poems, idioms, soul, incite, the future, the past, the present, the good, bad and ugly.
Hopefully, we continue to live the dream of the Legend, and promote what he truly stood for, Change.
Olatujoye wrote from Osogbo, Osun state.