BY AYENI ADEKUNLE
If you take time out to visit late Afrobeat maestro Fela Anikulapo-Kuti’s Gbemisola Street, Ikeja Lagos home and resting ground, it will be easy to see that the weird musician’s children are tired of seeing their father’s house dilapidated and in a ramshackle manner. The one-storey building, where Fela lived until his death on August 2, 1997, had been in need of a facelift for over five years, with the paint mouldy, fittings falling off and the interior in absolute mess. Before the ninth anniversary of his death last year, visitors lamented the poor state of the musician’s only house, especially considering that’s where he is buried.
Now, as the 10th anniversary of his death approaches, it appears his family have taken it upon themselves to reinvent the building which ordinarily should be a heavy tourist destination, considering Fela’s iconic status across the world.
The musician’s resting place, and his home, is of great interest to Fela-followers around the world. But years of hate and bitter quarrels have prevented his children from coming together to repair their father’s property. Femi Kuti who is successful by every standard, refused to visit the Gbemisola house, for several years after his father’s death, because Seun Kuti and his mother Fehintola (now late) lived there.
With Seun’s mother now dead, and reconciliation talks in the air, it is not surprising that workers have resumed on the property; working daily since last week, as if targeting a deadline.
…AS FELABRATION GETS BIGGER
The organisers of felabration, an annual festival dedicated to the memory of late Afrobeat maestro Fela Anikulapo-Kuti have announced that this year’s edition of the event will by every standards outshine previous ones.
According to Tunde Oshinibosi, CEO of Laface Entertainment, ‘felabration has grown bigger than the (African) shrine, so this year, we’re taking it to the streets, to a much biger space where it can take the form of a proper carnival of international standards’. Past editions of Felabration were held at Femi Kuti’s New Afrika shrine, in Ikeja, Lagos .
And to the organisers, this year’s event is special. It will be 10 years on August 2, that Fela bowed to deathm after a brief illness. It will also be his 69th post-humous birthday. (fela was born on October 15, 1938).
‘we’re having a three-day event this year. And the focus will not only be on music, we will play up the tourism potentials of Nigeria , and the beauty of our people’, says Oshinibosi, an avid fela fan and respected music promoter.
Though Nigerian participants at the festival this year are yet to be confirmed, the organisers hinted that Rita (widow of reggae legend Bob Marley) Marley may be one of the international performers. In 2006, South africa ’s Lucky Dube led the pack of ats that paid glowing tributes to Kuti. The venue is also yet to be announced.