During the Easter celebrations, I was opportune to attend the Fela Broadway Show that took place at the Expo Hall, Eko Hotel. From the almost Caucasian ensemble Afrobeat band, the lead actor who played Fela and the African-American ladies who danced in an enchanting manner, it was a delight to watch.
It was an exhilarating affair and a celebration of the live and time of Fela Anikulapo Kuti. I also got to know that the name Fela meant “one who shines with greatness”. According to the legend surrounding Fela, when the late Mrs Funmilayo Ransome Kuti had her first child, she named him Hildergaard.
The child died some few days later and upon consultations with a Chief Priest, she was told to give the next child an African name according to native laws and customs. This event led to the naming of “Abami Eda” as Fela.
Some Nigerians are of the opinion that the Fela story shouldn’t have been sold to the producers (Will Smith & Jay Z). Rather it should have been solely produced by Nigerians alone.
I don’t share those sentiments. Most stories we’ve watched about great men and women have been told by foreigners. From Nelson Mandela, Evita Peron, Malcolm X to Martin Luther King we have been given an insight into the lives of these people and the events that shaped them into the individuals they eventually became. Besides I know most people including me will shy away from visiting the shrine, due to the heavy presence of touts and fumes of marijuana pervading the atmosphere.
The criticism surrounding Fela shouldn’t be based on who has the customary rights to produce the show based on native intelligence. Rather it’s about the world giving us the spotlight we earned to tell the story of this great African son who’ll forever be remembered. Fela on broadway is a story that needs and must be shared globally because he was a global icon.