Search Site: OnlineNigeria

Close






LEADERS ON THE RISE:Femi's Fans Now Blow His Trumpet

Posted by By Modupe Ogunbayo on 2004/08/23 | Views: 403 |

LEADERS ON THE RISE:Femi's Fans Now Blow His Trumpet


42-year-old Femi Kuti has shrugged off the toga of obscurity. He is no longer known only as Femi, the son of the late Fela Anikulapo-Kuti, the Afrobeat music legend. He is a talented international musician and social crusader in his own right

42-year-old Femi Kuti has shrugged off the toga of obscurity. He is no longer known only as Femi, the son of the late Fela Anikulapo-Kuti, the Afrobeat music legend. He is a talented international musician and social crusader in his own right

Flashback to 1989. A musical video was playing on the television set. A light complexioned young man was gesturing widely at his dancers for chorusing 'no cause for alarm' when Nigeria's low development status actually calls for an alarm. His name flashed on the screen. "Who is he?" Someone asked. No one asks that anymore.

Today, 42-year-old Femi Kuti has shrugged off the toga of obscurity. He is no longer known only as Femi, the son of the late Fela Anikulapo-Kuti, the Afrobeat music legend. Femi Kuti has come into his own. He is a talented international musician and social crusader.

It is not surprising that Femi Kuti rose to be a leader in the music world. That amazing trait of being exceptional runs in his lineage. His grandparents, Rev. and Mrs I. O. Ransome Kuti, both late, were two of the earliest Nigerian nationalists. While I. O. or 'Dawodu', as the Reverend gentleman was fondly called, was busy challenging the colonialists on the educational content of Nigerian schools, Olufunmilayo Ransome-Kuti, the first Nigerian woman to drive a car, was in the forefront of the crusade for the banishment of Ademola II, then Alake of Egbaland for his imposition of taxes on women. Apart from his crusade against the colonialists Dawodu also displayed his artistic bent by composing the Egba national anthem, an important cultural aspect of the Egbas in Ogun State.

Fela, his son, later on in life, gave this artistic bent, greater emphasis. Audacious enough to change his course from Law to Music in England, he progressively rose above his parents' outrage to become a global music icon.

The scenario was later to repeat itself. Femi Kuti was also attracted to music. Characteristic of a born leader determined to pursue his vision of achieving greatness he discovered painfully that he had to sacrifice the quest for higher education when the pull for music became irresistible.

Femi shares many similarities with his father. Like Fela, he sings Afrobeat in Pidgin English, a deliberate effort to reach the masses of the people who are comfortable in that medium. They both bare their upper body and wear only trousers made from local fabric. Later in life Fela chose to appear on stage with only his under -garments. Backup singers for both double, also, as dancers. The skimpily clad dancers, bedecked in African beads and ornamentation, somehow, are personally connected with both musicians. Apart from his legitimate wife and Femi's mother, Remi, Fela was married to his 27 dancers in one day. Femi, though, has one wife, Funke, who also doubles as a dancer in Femi's band.

Both father and son have shown on and off stage their Pan African credentials. Both believed in lifting the integrity of the African race in the diaspora, re-awakening their consciousness in the face of tyranny and exploitation, and propagating the need for Africa to unite. This consciousness was also reflected in the titles and lyrics of their songs. To make the struggle multi-dimensional, Femi founded the Movement Against Second Slavery, MASS. MASS's focus was on the enlightenment of Africa through its youths, especially, those in institutions of higher learning on positive attitudes. MASS was, however, disbanded later when Femi realised that the managers of the project were deviating from its original objectives.

Though, Femi has spent 15 years in the music industry during which he released No Cause for Alarm, Mind Your Own Business, Wonder Wonder, Shoki Shoki, it was when he released Bang Bang Bang that music buffs thought he had arrived on the scene with a bang. The album won three Kora awards, Africa's supreme and most prestigious musical awards, in 2002. It also earned him a Grammy Award nomination in 2003.

Femi has had his share of international exposure. He has appeared on BBC's Hard Talk. He is a UN Ambassador on the HIV/AIDS pandemic in Nigeria and Africa. Besides, he was one of the entertainers at the completion of Big Brother Africa, a reality television programme. Bang, Bang, Bang is aired regularly on Channel O, a music channel on M-Net. The French Cultural arm also invites Femi Kuti to play on special occasions. At his last American musical tour, more than 60,000 fans gave him a standing ovation in Hollywood, capital of perfection in music and movies worldwide. All these achievements, no doubt, attest to his emergence as a leader in his own right, capable of putting Nigeria on the world's music map.

However, Femi Kuti does not relish the incessant comparisons between him and Fela. Although he acknowledges Fela's influence both as a father and music idol, Femi is always quick to point out that Fela is a legend that is unrivalled by anyone, himself inclusive. Femi Kuti chose, like a born leader, to chart his own course in life when he realised this fact.

Every Sunday at the New African shrine in Alausa, Lagos, Femi, through a harmonised heavy percussion rhythm of drums, trumpets and saxophone, elaborates on his philosophy of Pan Africanism. Femi sings, he speaks, he dances, he plays the saxophone, delivering both pleasure and politics to a rapturous audience that often includes people of various nationalities. He has an excellent organisational ability, one that enables him to take his music, his band, his entertainment, his business, to a new level of professional efficiency.

Through boundless passion, hardwork and a stubborn determination to succeed, Femi Kuti has risen. And is still rising. He remains a source of inspiration to youths who view his success as a guarantee of their own eventual success if they work as hard as he does.

No wonder no one asks anymore: Who is he?

Read Full Story Here.... :
Leave Comment Here :



Add Comment

* Required information
1000
Captcha Image

Comments (3)

Gravatar
New
Abieyuwa(Edo, Nigeria)says...

Otasowie means evening life is better than morning life. There is an error in your “evening life is better than evening life”?

Gravatar
New
Naija g(Houston, Minnesota, US)says...

Sokari doesn’t mean joy. Joy is Biobela. Go to the village and ask the meaning of the name.

Gravatar
New
Fay(Katy, Texas, US)says...

Actually translates to bravehearted.