Following yesterday's theme* of activism through the arts, today we're celebrating the phenomenal Olufela Olusegun Oludotun Ransome-Kuti. Fela would have been 72 today and though he is no longer with us in body, his legacy is firmly with us forever. Musician, activist, rebel – the man has inspired music genres (Afrobeat), politics (through his music, through his persistent attacks on the shortcomings of the Nigerian government and through his own political party, Movement of the People) and a wealth of artistic expression in a multitude of media. Today, we celebrate Fela Anikulapo (the man who carries death in his pouch) Kuti through showcasing just a slice of his creative influence.
This week, Carlos Moore's book, Fela: This Bitch of a Life, is being reissued with cover art by Lemi Ghariokwu, Fela's faithful album artist.
Another great book catalogues an exhibition of art inspired by Fela, held in New York in the early 2000s: Black President: The Art and Legacy of Fela Anikulapo-Kuti.
(See the book covers at the top of the post).
Fela album art is prolific! I have not seen one dull album cover. Instead they evoke the wonderful madness, expressiveness and dynamism of the artist (Clockwise from top left: He Miss road, Original Sufferhead/ITT, Shuffering and Schmilling/No Agreement and Shakara/London Scene).
Below are some more recent artistic works inspired by the legend:
Painting on the left by Barkley Hendricks, used on the cover of the Nka: Journal of Contemporary African Art (image found on Nasher Museum Blogs). Black President poster found with this BBC article. Cupcakes seen on Experimental Etc. – check the site out for a Fela discography.
There are experiments such as the Michael Jackson meets Fela video that you can watch on LYSERGICFUNK (image above also from LYSERGICFUNK).
… And then there's the award winning Broadway play, Fela! (see the site for more images).
"[A] political revolution [is] a change to the leadership of a society that does not impact the social structures, mores or power relations. A social revolution, on the other hand, is one where the political regime is not the focus of struggle because what is at stake is the very way of being, living and experiencing the world."
It seems that Fela was out to create a political revolution but, the wide reach of his music, its universal themes of social justice and the life of the man himself, may just have created a social one!
I leave you this Friday, with the video of one of my personal favourites, "Zombie":
[*And to be fair, the theme of this blog and my life!]