Fela Kuti and Nigera, his legend lives on.
Fela Kuti, an all-rounder against rampant capitalism, against military rule, a spokesperson for socialism and welfare, musician and political activist may have passed away in 1997 due to AIDS but it seems his sons Seun and Femi are carrying on the political and musical torch their father ignited but could not see to completion - a very admirable stance considering the family history.
Born to a family of activists whose grandfather started the first teachers union in Nigera, Seun Kuti’s life has been filled with politically outspoken figures, many of whom have suffered for their political beliefs. His father Fela formed his own political party in the 1970s but was barred for running for the presidency by the then ruling military government. Femi, his older brother and Fela’s oldest son too has gone on to become a musician who advocates political change. Much of his musical royalties have gone towards worth causes such as increasing AIDS awareness – something that is sorely welcome in a continent like Africa where the disease has reached epidemic proportions. Seun’s grandmother was murdered by being thrown out of a balcony during a previous harsher administration ruled by the strict military junta in 1978 that did not agree with the changes Fela advocated. Many of which the messages were anti corruption and critical of bad administration while denouncing military rule through some rather explicitly worded songs such as “Army Arrangement”.
Nigeria is a state where Christian and Muslim citizens make up most of the population. Usually the president of the state alternatives between a Christian and a Muslim turn-by-turn keeping the people of the state equally represented and thereby keeping religious harmony. The last two times however, the president has been Christian, which has made many Muslims question the transparency of the electoral process.
These days a rallying point for Seun Kuti seems to be fairer and more transparent elections that could ensure better representation for all, affecting Muslims and helping provide redress to their politically related grievances. Apart from this, Seun seems to be rallying for subsidies on transport, another issue that has Nigerians worried with the expected prices of fuel to go up at astronomical rates. As a political activist who advocated socialist reforms, it seems fitting for Fela’s sons to take up their father’s fight. Both sons belong to the “Save Nigeria Group” that’s aims to curb corruption and violence. Their motto, “Kill corruption, not Nigerians” seems singularly effective, as does their strategy of using politically motivated musicians as a way of getting their message across. With families as committed to helping their fellow Nigerians as Fela’s, Nigeria could become a much more stable state with much happier citizens.