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10 Things You Might Not Know About Fela

UNITED KINGDOM – JANUARY 01: BRIXTON ACADEMY Photo of Fela KUTI, Fela Kuti live at The Academy, Brixton, London 1983 (Photo by David Corio/Redferns)

There were many things that defined the legend Fela Anikulapo Kuti was in his lifetime. Most of them border on the iconoclastic doused in generous activism and Afrocentric political ideology.

He not only preached his beliefs through his music which is still relevant to Nigeria 21years after his death, he also lived them. His antagonism to the bad leadership in Nigeria made him popular with a potent voice of dissent to different regimes.

But popular as he was(and still), we present to you things you might not know about the legendary pioneer of Afrobeat.

1. Fela dropped his original surname Ransome-Kuti because felt ‘Ransome’ was a slave name. He adopted a Yoruba name Anikulapo which means “He who has death in his pocket.”

2. He formed his first band Koola Lobitos in 1963. The name was later changed Nigeria ’70 Afrika 70 and later to Egypt 80 Band.

3. When he returned to Nigeria in 1963, Fela trained with the Nigerian Broadcasting Corporation as a radio producer.

4. He formed Movement of the People, a political party in 1979. He sought to contest for the presidency that year. But he was rejected.

5. Fela and Nigeria’s first Nobel laureate Wole Soyinka are cousins. His younger brother Dr. Beko Ransome-Kuti was also a notable political and human rights activist before his death.

6. His mother Olufunmilayo Ransome-Kuti was instrumental to the abolition of the separate taxes for women in 1953.

7. In 1984, a documentary film titled “Teacher Don’t Teach Me Nonsense” inspired by his life was aired by the BBC.

8. The late Afrobeat king was banned from Ghana in 1978 after a riot broke out during his concert in Accra while he was performing the song “Zombie”.

9. In 1978, Fela was named in the Guinness book of record for marrying 27 women in a single wedding ceremony.

10. His father Israel Ransome Kuti was a founding member of both the Nigerian Union of Teachers and Nigerian Union of Students.

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