Oyebode, others laud Fela’s contributions to societal change

From left: Nigerian Playwright Sefi Atta; Prof Akin Oyebode; Yemisi Ransome-Kuti; Chimamanda Adichie, Nigerian Playwright; Mr Robert Kyagulanyi, Ugandan Activist; and Mr Kingslee Daley, British Activist.

Prof Akin Oyebode and some other African activists on Monday lauded the contributions of the late Afro-beat musician Fela Anikulapo Kuti to societal transformation.

Oyebode — a professor of international law and jurisprudence — and the others spoke at the 2019 Felabration  Debate, with the theme, ‘’Teacher Don’t Teach me Nonesense’’ , at the NECA House,Alausa,Ikeja.

Felabration is a festival of music and arts commemorating the life and times of  Fela Anikulakpo Kuti, which was conceived by his eldest child, Yeni, in 1998.

With the exception of 1999, Felabration has taken place annually in honour of the late musical icon who was born on Oct. 15, 1938 and died on Aug. 2, 1997.

The speakers at the Felabration Debate said that going by its theme, Fela, through his  music, was able to educate and entertain a good number of people.

Oyebode described the late Afro-beat musician as an iconoclast and a musical genius who was able to effect societal change through his music.

He said that Fela used his music to give confidence to Nigerians and contributed to national development.

” Fela was the greatest African musician who demonstrated how African values had been eroded by putting firewood on his newly purchased Mercedes Benz.

” His music never dies due to the strong messages they convey; his music remains indelible, his heritage has survived more than 20 years and will go forever,” he said.

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A Ugandan musician and activist, Robert Kyagulanyi, said that the late afro-beat maestro was a man who lived before his time, and was silenced before the emergence of social media.

He said that Fela had explored music as the most powerful means of communication and as an agent of promoting social change in communities.

Kyagulanyi enjoined African musicians to adequately use their music as tool for effecting change in the society like Fela and Bob Marley did.

” Fela influenced me so much, likewise most of Nigerian authors like late Chinua Achebe and more; this is because they have been able to contribute to societal growth.

” I want African musicians to imbibe Fela’s style of educating and entertaining the populace through his music; musicians have overwhelming power to change the society, they should be conscious of this,” he said.

A British journalist and activist, Kingslee Daley, also known as ‘Akala’, also called on people to always seek for knowledge and not take whatever “nonsense they were taught.”

Akala said  that the internet and social media  had made it easier for people to  research whatever information they wanted.

A Nigerian playwright, Sefi Atta, said that Fela’s performance was outstanding when compared with other musicians who only tagged themselves as activists.

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“Afro-beat guides my principle and ideas. There is so much to learn from Fela’s songs. So, I am not surprised some other artistes identify with him.

” Musicians should be careful how they handle Fela’s messages, as some artistes are seen to be using Fela’s music at the expense of his message.

” You will see music videos with the Afrobeat showing flashy cars and clothes, which is contradictory to Fela’s messages; they are teaching nonsense.

” I will urge those in charge of Fela’s works to protect his message, which is as important as protecting the copyright,” she said.