The significance of Barack Obama and Eric Holder placing Assata Shakur on the FBI “Most Wanted Terroist List”, with the likes of Al Qaeda’s number two leader Ayman al-Zawahiri (I guess now number one since Bin Ladin’s death), the ONLY (black) female on this list, is and will be lost on most African-Americans. These two “Black” men are sending a signal to their “White” masters that they not only repudiate the struggles of Black people against oppression and for their own empowerment, but that “Black Militancy” itself, is a form of TERRORISM! Further they are now declaring a “war on terror” against the backbone… the heart and soul… of the Black Liberation Movement: The Black Woman!
Unlike the murdered teen Trayvon Martin, whom Obama stated “If I had a son, he’d look like Trayvon”, he sees no connection of his black daughters and black wife to Assata Shakur. Regardless, isn’t one of the primary roles of a man (in most if not all cultures and throughout history) to protect the woman of his community from the unwarranted and unjustified attacks of men from a rival community? What does it say about these two black men who are willing to sacrifice this black woman on the altar of white supremacy? As an American citizen, is she now a legitimate target of an extra-judicial drone killing like Anwar al-Awlaki?
The sad thing is, regardless of this latest blatant act of once again turning his back on the African-American community and perpetuating the system of injustice and “terror” against them, 99% of these same negroes would vote for Barack Obama for a 3rd term as President if they could! smh!
In order to put this article into its proper perspective, Chinweizu informs us thus:
“It was miseducation which sought to withold from me the memory of our true African past and to substitute instead an ignorant shame for whatever travesties Europe chose to represent as African Past. It was miseducation which sought to quarantine me from all influences, ancient as well as contemporary, which did not emanate from, or meet with the imperial approval of, western “civilization.” It was a miseducation which, by encouraging me to glorify all things European and by teaching me a low esteem for and negative attitudes towards things African, sought to cultivate in me that kind of inferiority complex which drives a perfectly fine right foot to strive to mutilate itself into a left foot. It was a miseducation full of gaps and misleading pictures: it sought to structure my eyes to see the world in the imperialist way of seeing the world; it sought to internalize in my consciousness the values of the colonizers; it sought to train me to automatically uphold and habitually employ the colonizers’ viewpoint in all matters, in the strange belief that their racist, imperialist, anti-African interest is the universal, humanist interest, and in a strange belief that the view defined by their ruthless greed is the rational, civilized view. And by such terms of supposed praise as “advanced,” “detribalized,” and getting to be quite civilized,” it sought to co-opt my sympathies and make contemptuous of examining what it should have been my duty to change and alleviate. For it was a distracting miseducation which tried in every way to avoid questions that were important to me and to the collective African condition. It tried to maneuver me away from asking them; it tried to keep me from probing them most thoroughly; it tried instead to preoccupy me with other matters. But the had realities of the Black (African) Condition kept insisting that I ask: Where did our poverty, our material backwardness, our cultural inferiority complexes begin and why? And why do they persist in spite of political independence?”
If the reader has read the whole quote up to here, Chinweizu is more than relevant here. He covers all the issues we have raised and tells us what to do in reconstructing African history, all the issues raised herein, affected everything about him and the world and real-reality he lives in day in and day out. What Chinweizu is discussing above, is what has been the Achilles heel of African progress and development in various ways.
Unlearning the Narcotized Colonial Miseducation
Chinweizu, true to form, delves even much deeper into his soliloquy in the following manner:
“When I turned to the official explainers and interpreters, and to the expert and benevolent meliorists of our condition, and asked for a flash of light, they wrapped my head instead with a shroud of double-talk and evasions; they thrust my head into a garbage dump of facts, facts and more bits and pieces of facts which merely confused me the more by their (deliberately?) disorganized abundance; they punctured the membranes of my ears with slogans, distinctions without preferences, smart phrases which brightly and engagingly misled; they offered me tools, supposedly analytic, which mauled what they claimed to explain, and left me constipated with jargon and dazed with confusion. The experience was thoroughly disillusioning. In my pain I began to suspect that my mind had been, over the years, held prisoner in a den where intellectual opiates were served me by official schools, by approved lists of books, by the blatant as well as subliminal propaganda of films, and by an overwhelming assortment of media controlled by interests inimical to, and justifiably scared of a true and thorough-going African Nationalism. Suspecting that the glittering phalanx of experts spoke to my colonizers and their imperial interests, I felt that, even though I was not an “expert” in these fields, I should nevertheless conduct my own investigation into the origins and circumstances of the deplorable African stasis, learning the necessary skills “on the job” as it were.”
The article above has been pointing out to the ‘self-appointed’ experts that have given themselves the task of explaining to the world, and on the internet what they ‘think’ they know about Africans in South Africa. In this article I contended that these so-called pros know nothing about the Africans of South Africa, and proceeded to breakdown these custom and cultures to make the point that African, South African History, culture, customs, tradition and so on are not static nor non-existence, but, as according to the definition I utilized from Hall and Wilson, to gave us a definition of Culture, which it turns out is right down the pike it was with the culture of the Nguni/Bakone I have written about in this article. This was in an effort to aid Africans to begin to unlearn colonial history and learn their history anew and in a much more informed way and manner. After Chinweizu realized and learned that he can teach himself to morph into his own written account, educating himself about himself and his people anew, made him realized that by thinking so, and was ready to unlearn what he called the “narcotic colonized education” he had to overcome the challenges of deconstructing the Master’s history and rewriting and recreating his own history in his own image and people. This is how Chinweizu addresses this part of the discourse I am talking above in the paragraph below:
“My official education was over. The overthrow of the allegiances programmed into me by it was in swift progress; but there were vital things I still had to learn-things they did not and would not teach me in school; things they would, if they could, keep me from coming into contact with even outside school; things in order to appreciate which I had to painfully unlearn much of what they had instilled in me at school. And so I began a journey of the mind; a journey by a mind thoroughly alienated from its imperialized miseducation. And the purpose of this journey was first to seek out the roots of the Black Condition within which my mind suffered. By the way, if any should think inappropriate my discussing colonial education through imagery of opium narcotics, let them consider that the British, from 1839 to 1842, waged war on China in order to force the Chinese to buy opium which her Britannic Christian Majesty’s imperial agents grew in India. Victory in the Opium War earned the British the “right” to addict so many Chinese to opium that much of the population, nodding and half asleep all the time, was supinely amenable to Western cultural aggression and imperialist manipulation. Now, if they could go that far, why should their use of intellectual opium to subdue, for the same ends, some other unlucky victims seem incredible and outlandish?”
We catch-up with Chinweizu after much articulation as to his transformation out of being ‘narcotically miseducated by the colonizers’, to being influenced by the Frantz Fanon, Amilcar Cabral, Pablo Neruda of Chile, Malcolm X, Julius Nyerere, Mbonu Ojike, Aime Cesaire, Hamidou Kane, and so forth, to better understand the origins of the African stasis and to the task of understanding the workings of the system, which maintained the deplorable Black Condition saying that “these have been and remain my teachers and my guides as I continue my efforts to cleanse myself of the pollutions from a colonial miseducation.”
We further learn from Chinweizu who clearly states that:
“Having listened to them, I would heed no more, and would more emphatically reject, the pious, self-serving propaganda given out as official and objective truth by the imperialist party. For I no longer believe the official voices of the West. They do not speak for the interests of the imperialized. I now realize that these “official husbanders of my consciousness” would take incredible pains to hide from me even elementary things, the better to conceal all clues that might lead me to correct answers to questions provoked by the Black condition. I have decided to listen closely to voices from the imperialized world, to share experiences and insights with them. What the voices from the imperialized world say, and some are anti-imperialist voices within the West say, continue to make sense to me as I try to understand our specific conditions.”
Citing Chinweizu at such length is very important for the political/social historical theory for the presently dysfunctional people of South Africa. Learning and reading up on such works such as these presented by Chiweizu and those who are at the front of the African struggle and liberation, they who spin history to be user-friendly for the oppressed, in the process imparting knowledge and ways and means and new ways of learning and thinking about what he calls the “Black Condition”, are important links for Africans to use to manipulate and meander through all the obstacles that are thrown their way, whenever they try to unlearn what Chinweizu calls “narcotized colonized miseducation”. At this juncture, we take some lesson from Chinweizu when he sutures, tightly, his argument and reasons as to why and how we should unlearn this devious form of miseducation of Africans by the West. Chiweizu finally points out that:
“If my experience of it is at all representative, colonial miseducation is something its victims need to cure themselves of. And this is not easy to do. We are all, I believe, rather a little like colonized boy who, we are told, had learned from his colonized milieu to be ashamed of his local Africans weather. In our efforts to wash from our consciousness the harmful pollutants deposited there by our colonial miseducation, we are apt to act like the child who rubs his/her belly endlessly with soap and water, doesn’t touch any other part of his body, and when he tires of it all, runs to his/her mother to announce that he/she has taken a bath. Clearly we need something like a communal metal bath, one which we shall scrub the crud off one another’s backs, and especially from those corners which our hands cannot thoroughly scour. I believe that even a layman ought to share his results with others, so we can move more rapidly to a deeper, more thorough, and more useful appreciation of our collective condition.”
Chinweizu trudges on:
“If we wait for our official experts, who knows when, if ever, they will dare feel free, or find it profitable, to talk candidly and intelligently to us? For there are three sorts of experts: those for our liberation, those against our liberation, and those who contrive to appear to be on our side while they are indeed subtly working against our liberation. Advice from an expert who is not on your side, or from one who is against you, can be far worse than no expert advice at all. The layman, I believe, ought therefore to be very discriminating in choosing what expert to heed. It is, in every situation, very much like choosing a lawyer. For there are some experts, some Africans included, who deeply cherish the privileges that go with defending or furthering the interests of the imperialists. Under the guise of professionalism, of offering objective advice, some will subtly legislate against, or turn the unwary client away, from things that are in the client’s interest; some will gloss over differences that matter; some will conceal facts or omit considerations that are vital. Because of these kinds of experts genuinely on the client’s side are as capable of honest error as anyone, the client ought always to exercise vigilance and common sense in taking advice from experts. For eternal vigilance, in all matters, especially over the minutest details, is still the price of liberty.”
Given the psychic and ideological foundation of our subjugation, of both the colonial subjugation from which we thought we had escaped and the neocolonial form that has manacled us, any spirited drive for genuine freedom must begin with a thorough critique of the bourgeoise culture that has made us captives; of the process and content of the modernization that has lured us into captivity; and of the relation, if any, between technological modernization and the Christian bourgeois culture. It is precisely the existence of such a milieu that is retarding African progress today, because these petty-bourgeois elite who kowtow and pander to the West and are flinging themselves pell-mell into its orb, disregarding any protestations nor opposition that stems from its African voting polity, as in the case of Africans in South Africa.
According to Chinweizu, we should be circumspect of experts, all of those pretenders and false analysts who make out as if they have African people’s interests at heart, meanwhile, behind the scenes (mentally or otherwise) scurrilously fleece you to the marrow of your soul by denouncing every little thing about one, in order to dominate and confuse you. This is how Chinweizu concludes this matter:
“In exercising our rights as citizens, and in meeting our obligations to examine, discuss and pronounce upon all matters that affect our general welfare, we are bound to come up against the resistance of that kind of expert who rises up in arms whenever a layman “trespasses” on his “jargon-fenced bailiwick”. Such experts, while misinterpreting facts and gerrymandering arguments, are prone to mount some high pedestal of laurels and reputation, and from there demand the “intruder’s” credentials, in hopes or overawing him into irresponsible silence,or intimidating him/her into acquiescing in arrant nonsense.”
Chinweizu concludes thusly:
“In such situations, it is perhaps prudent to remind oneself that the loftiest credentials have never been a barrier to uttering nonsense; nor is a total lack of credentials a barrier to talking sense. A decolonized and re-educated African ought always to demand that matters be explained from an Afro-centric viewpoint, with scientific tools, and that the results be translated into intelligible common sense. By so insisting, we enable ourselves to spot and avoid ideologies, open as well as hidden, by which we are liable to be confused and misled, and attractive myths by which we are liable to be tricked and lynched en masse.”
We need to raise our level of vigilance, read and know our history, find ways and means to get it from FB to the man in the street who has no such knowledge or awareness and expounded upon by Chinweizu; be able to break down these advices to be in tandem with the understand, needs and relevance to the the poor Africans of South Africa. This is the job of all those who are reading this posted piece now to take it from here and make it reach the people, or print it to give it to the ordinary and poor people in community who do not have access to computers. We need to begin to use FB to inform and form positive dialogues with our poor masses who are denied such knowledge; we should not only boast about the fact that we are the only one who know this type of information, we should make it possible for the children, youth and elderly to have access to this information, whatever it takes. We, as Africans of South Africa, are much more better than what we are now experiencing and facing as a people.
The children with Mama Jean at the Mother of Peace Orphanage in Mutoko, Zimbabwe
In 1989 a South African warrior woman was inspired to promote the setting up of orphanages that would care for children who had been abandoned due to the AIDS pandemic. In 1993 five people from Harare took up the challenge to open an orphanage in Zimbabwe. The Government leased an area of land to them and the work was begun to clear the land for both accommodation and agriculture.
The Birth of Mother of Peace
Mama Jean and Sister Stella were educated and trained as nurses in the U.K. With the help of U.K. charities, the Catholic Church and other philanthropists, Mother of Peace was formally established as a safe refuge for the children of Zimbabwe. The community continues to be operated by Mama Jean and Sister Stella and children of all faiths are warmly welcomed.
In their early years, given the lack of proper medical treatment and medication for the children, Mother of Peace was a hospice where Mama Jean and Sister Stella cared for the children while they were dying of AIDS or other fatal diseases. Today, given the provision of medical treatment, medication and living support from The Allen Temple Baptist Church AIDS Ministry and other donors, the fatality rate has significantly reduced. The children are nurtured at the orphanage and then they are reintegrated within their larger family group. Mama Jean goes a step further and continues to give the children support!
The orphanage is comprised of:
- 10 family homes each accommodating up to 16 children.
- A Medical Clinic which provides HIV/AIDS prevention education and treatment to children living at the orphanage and also, to adults and children in nearby communities.
- A primary and vocational school.
- A farming operation.
- A bakery.
- A Catholic chapel.
The Allen Temple Baptist Church in Oakland CA has been a supporter of the Mother of Peace Orphanage since 2000.
In late 2000, Dr. Robert C. Scott and other church and Ministry leaders attended the International AIDS Conference in South Africa. During their stay, they also traveled to Zimbabwe and were introduced to Mama Jean and Sister Stella at Mother of Peace.
Dr. Scott and the other Ministry leaders were greatly moved by the significant needs of the children and the overwhelming commitment of Mama Jean and Sister Stella. Upon their return to the U.S., they formally petitioned Allen Temple to adopt the orphanage and to provide financial support. This support continues today and provides for the well being, care and enrichment of every child living at the community.
In addition, at the Medical Clinic located at Mother of Peace, Dr. Scott leads a team of U.S. based and Zimbabwean medical professionals and administers life-saving anti-retroviral medicine therapies and treatment to child patients with HIV/AIDS. Allen Temple AIDS Ministry sources and pays for all HIV/AIDS related medications.
I am so thankful that we have had the opportunity to be a part of the work of Mama Jean and The Mother of Peace Orphanage. Mama Jean has come to our church on two occassions since I’ve been a member just to talk about the progress of the children she cares for. She also spoke about developing self sufficiency and sustainability through the farming operation and the bakery that they have!
We’ve all heard the statistics about the number of children being made orphans because of the devastating HIV/AIDS pandemic. Mama Jean has stepped out on faith and has built this caring environment to nurture her beautiful children. The orphanage now cares for 150 plus children, and more are being referred to her. Mama Jean has goals set to expand and care for 400 children. The Mother of Peace Orphanage is a loving wonderful environment and the children definitely are thriving!
I am also thankful that the black church has been able to get involved with Mother of Peace and stand up and be counted as fighters in this HIV/AIDS battle. It’s easy to be overwhelmed by the sheer numbers of children adversely affected by this disasterous pandemic. But thank the Lord for Mama Jean Cornneck and her heart for the children of Zimbabwe! Her work within the Mother of Peace Orphanage is blessed by the Lord!
Now, if we black people could just overlook our differences–our surface, shallow political and religious ideologies…and instead look at our similarities–that we want empowerment for ourselves and self determination for our black people–and focus on those similarities, we would certainly be able to replicate a million times over what Mama Jean Cornneck has done in her small corner of space over there in Mutoko, Zimbabwe, caring for more than 150 children! Imagine what we could truly do to uplift ourselves, whether we are baptists, catholics, atheists, agnostics, or whatever.
Thank You Mama Jean and Sister Stella for being warrior women for the good of our children!
Part 1 of 3
There’s a New Show on Broadway, the likes of which has never been seen on the stage before! Fela! by
Bill T. Jones, famous director and choreographer, along with others have brought to the story of outspoken Nigerian Afrobeat musician and revolutionary social activist Fela Anikulapo Kuti to the American stage!!
Bill T. Jones does a great job of explaining his understanding of Fela and the reason he has brought his life to the Broadway stage. Personally, I have only seen clips on TV and Youtube, but I can see that the show is spectacular! The choreography showcases some of the most fantastic and energetic dancers and singers, and the multitalented Sahr Ngaujah, who plays Fela takes command of the role and becomes the man Fela!
The Broadway show starts with the performers slowly and sensually walking through the aisles of the theater to the stage, hips swaying as they pass the audience–hinting at the excitement to come. First Fela’s female dancers, then Fela and his male dancers who encircle Fela, dancing bent over at the waist while Fela dances, standing upright. The whole scene portrays Fela as being larger than life! The performer, Sahr Ngaujah, reeks of gorgeousness and sexiness! He’s one black man from whom you can not tear your eyes!! HOT and Cool!! This performer captures a bit the excitement and brilliance and contradiction of Fela Kuti!
As for the rest of the performers, I read a review here that sums it beautifully!!
SO WHO WAS Fela Anikulapo Kuti? A Broadway show cannot begin to encompass the man. Choreographer Bill T. Jones understood that fully.
Fela was born Olufela Olusegun Oludotun Ransome-Kuti in Abeokuta, Ogun State, Nigeria into a middle-class family on October 15, 1938. His mother, Funmilayo Ransome-Kuti was a feminist activist in the anti-colonial movement, and his father, Reverend Israel Oludotun Ransome-Kuti, who was a Protestant minister and school principal, was the first president of the Nigerian Union of Teachers.
FUNMILAYO RANSOME-KUTI (25 October 1900 Abeokuta, Nigeria – 13 April 1978 Lagos, Nigeria), born Francis Abigail Olufunmilayo Thomas to Daniel Olumeyuwa Thomas and Lucretia Phyllis Omoyeni Adeosolu. She was a teacher, political campaigner, women’s rights activist and traditional aristocrat. Ransome-Kuti’s political activism led to her being described as the doyen of female rights in Nigeria and was regarded as “The Mother of Africa.” Early on she was a very powerful force advocating for women’s right to vote. She was described in 1947, by the West African Pilot as the “Lioness of Lisabi” for her leadership of Egba women on a campaign against arbitrary taxation of women. That struggle led to the abdication of the Egba King Oba Ademola II in 1949. Fela adored his warrior mother Funmilayo, for her powerful activism for women rights in Nigeria, yet Fela himself was considered chauvinistic and he was a polygamist!
Fela was sent by his parents to London in 1958 to study medicine, but he decided that he would study music instead at the Trinity College of Music. While there, he formed the band, Koola Lobitos, and they played a fusion of jazz and highlife music. In 1960, Fela married his first wife, Remilekun (Remi) Taylor, with whom he would have three children (Femi, Yeni, and Sola).
In 1969, Fela took the band to the United States. While there, he was introduced to the Black Power movement through Sandra Smith (now Izsadore)—a partisan of the Black Panther Party. The Black Power Movement in America greatly influenced his music and political views. He renamed his band, Nigeria ’70.
He later formed the Kalakuta Republic, a commune, a recording studio, and a home for the many people connected to the band. He later declared the Kalakuta Republic independent and sovereign from the state of Nigeria. Fela also set up a nightclub in the Empire Hotel, and named it the Afrika Shrine, where he and his band performed on a regualar basis. Many artists the world over has visited the Afrika Shrine–Hugh Masakela, Roy Ayers, Paul McCartney (who didn’t want it known that he visited)–for a little taste of the creativity, the danger, the excitement, the sexiness and madness of it all!
Fela was continually developing his political stance through his music. What I respect about Fela is that he was struggling to recapture his “African-ness”, a battle that many of us are fighting. He wanted black people to reclaim their black culture and, he wanted to help “re-Africanize the people through the music” He decided to change his middle “slave name” from “Ransome” to “Anikulapo” which means, “he who carries death in his pouch”.
Because Fela’s music spoke to the issues of oppresion of the people, it became very popular among Nigerians, and of course good protest music speaks to all people, so Africans across the continent became big fans as well. In fact, he made the decision to sing in Pidgin English so that his music could be enjoyed by individuals throughout Africa. As his music gained popularity with the masses of black people, he was hated more and more by the Nigerian government for his open condemnation of them and their tactics.
In 1977 Fela and the Afrika ’70 released the hit album “Zombie”, a scathing attack on Nigerian soldiers, using the zombie metaphor to describe the methods of the Nigerian military. The album was a smash hit with the people and infuriated the government all the more. The government retaliated with a vicious attack against the Kalakuta Republic, during which one thousand soldiers attacked the commune. Fela was severely beaten, and his elderly mother was thrown from a window, which caused fatal injuries. The Kalakuta Republic was burned, and Fela’s studio, instruments, and master tapes were destroyed.
Fela and his band retreated to a residence in the Crossroads Hotel along with his commune. In 1978 Fela married 27 women, many of whom were his dancers, composers, and singers to mark the anniversary of the attack on the Kalakuta Republic. Later, he was to adopt a rotation system of keeping only twelve simultaneous wives. The year was also marked by two notorious concerts, the first in Accra in which riots broke out during the song “Zombie”, which led to Fela being banned from entering Ghana. The second was at the Berlin Jazz Festival after which most of Fela’s musicians deserted him, due to rumours that Fela was planning to use the entirety of the proceeds to fund his presidential campaign.
Despite these massive setbacks, Fela was determined to make a comeback. Interestingly, he formed his own political party, called “Movement of the People”. In 1979 he put himself forward for President in Nigeria’s first elections in more than a decade, but his candidature was refused. During that time, Fela created a new band, and called it Egypt ’80. He kept it all moving and continued to record albums and tour the country.
He further infuriated the political establishment by dropping the names of ITT (International Telephone and Telegraph, Nigeria Ltd) vice-president Moshood Abiola and then General Olusegun Obasanjo at the end of a hot-selling 25-minute political screed titled “I.T.T. (International Thief-Thief)”.
I was happy to find the following vimeo on Fela. The title is “The Music Is The Weapon” and in it Fela talks openly about corruption in Nigeria, colonialism and its effects, culture and music. He and his Queens also talk about the attack they suffered at the hands of the government, and how they attacked and destroyed the compound. The film is one hour long, but very interesting and informative–well worth watching in its entirety. The narrator gives it a slight bit of a racist spin, but it’s easy to ignore. In this vimeo, you can see Fela’s passion and love for his people–the film gives one a fuller understanding of the man. I should warn that there are a few graphic photos when they speak of the Biafran War.
In 1984, Fela was again attacked by the military government, who jailed him on a dubious charge of currency smuggling. His case was taken up by several human-rights groups, and after spending 20 months in prison, he was released by General Ibrahim Babangida. On his release he divorced his 12 remaining wives, saying that “marriage brings jealousy and selfishness.” Once again, Fela continued to release albums with Egypt ’80, made a number of successful tours of the United States and Europe and also continued to be politically active. In 1986, Fela performed in Giants Stadium in New Jersey as part of the Amnesty International Conspiracy of Hope concert, sharing the bill with Bono, Carlos Santana, and The Neville Brothers. In 1989, Fela and Egypt ’80 released the anti-apartheid Beasts of No Nation album that depicts on its cover then U.S. President Ronald Reagan, UK Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher and South African Prime Minister Pieter Willem Botha with fangs dripping blood.
The musical style performed by Fela Kuti is called Afrobeat, which is a fusion of jazz, funk, psychedelic rock, and traditional West African chants and rhythms. Afrobeat also borrows heavily from the native “tinker pan” African-style percussion that Kuti acquired while studying in Ghana with Hugh Masekela, under the fantastic Hedzoleh Soundz. Afrobeat is also characterized by having vocals, and musical structure, along with jazzy, funky horn sections. The endless groove is also used, in which a base rhythm of drums, shekere, muted guitar, and bass guitar are repeated throughout the song.
Kuti thought that it was very important for Africans to fight European cultural imperialism, and he was a supporter of traditional African religions and lifestyles. He was also a supporter of Pan-Africanism, and called for a united, democratic African republic. He was a candid supporter of human rights, and many of his songs are direct attacks against dictatorships, specifically the militaristic governments of Nigeria in the 1970s and 1980s. He was also a social commentator, and he criticized his fellow Africans (especially the upper class) for betraying traditional African culture. The African culture he believed in also included having many wives (polygamy) and the Kalakuta Republic was formed in part as a polygamist colony. He defended his stance on polygamy with the words “A man goes for many women in the first place. Like in Europe, when a man is married, when the wife is sleeping, he goes out and f**ks around. He should bring the women in the house, man, to live with him, and stop running around the streets!”
Rumours started spreading that he was suffering from an illness for which he was refusing treatment. On 3 August 1997, Olikoye Ransome-Kuti, already a prominent AIDS activist and former Minister of Health, stunned the nation by announcing his younger brother’s death a day earlier from Kaposi’s sarcoma brought on by AIDS. (Their younger brother Beko was in jail at this time at the hand of Abacha for political activity.)
More than a million people attended Fela’s funeral at the site of the old Shrine compound. A new Africa Shrine has opened since Fela’s death in a different section of Lagos under the supervision of his son Femi Kuti.
In 2008, an off-Broadway production of Fela Kuti’s life titled Fela!, began with a collaborative workshop between the Afrobeat band Antibalas and Tony award winner Bill T. Jones. The show was a massive success, selling out shows during its run, and garnering much critical acclaim. On November 22, 2009, Fela! began a run on Broadway at the Eugene O’Neill Theatre. Jim Lewis helped co-write the play (along with Bill T. Jones), and obtained producer backing from Jay-Z, Will Smith, Jada Pinkett-Smith, Stephen Hendel, and Stephen Semlitz. The show received rave reviews from The New York Times, saying that the musical “Fela! doesn’t so much tell a story as soak an audience to and through the skin with the musical style and sensibility practiced by its leading man.” Sahr Ngaujah was cast as the magnetic lead role, and Antibalas continues to provide the music, taking on the role of the Nigeria 70. On May 4, 2010, Fela! was nominated for 11 Tony Awards, including Best Musical, Best Book of a Musical, Best Direction of a Musical for Bill T. Jones, Best Leading Actor in a Musical for Sahr Ngaujah, and Best Featured Actress in a Musical for Lillias White.