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Fela Raises Feast In London, Lagos… As Felabration 2019 Beckons

Fela Kuti

Lauryn Hill, Majek Fashek To Receive Special Awards
The Indigo at The O2, London, will come under heavy Africa beats next month, as organisers have unveiled explosive lineup for Felabration UK. Billed for August 30, the event, which will celebrate the life and legacy of the African music icon and legend, Fela Anikulapo Kuti, will be headlined by some of Africa’s biggest stars, including Nigeria’s Falz, Harrysong and Awilo Longomba from Condo DRC.

The extensive line-up for Felabration UK, which is the first ever Felabration Music Festival in London, also includes the likes of Afrobeats rising stars A.Star, Eugy, BM, Sona, Drumz with Atumpan, Mr 2Kay, Hotyce, Shiikane, Tomi Agape, Damibliz, and others, with music legends Lauryn Hill and Majek Fashek set to receive special recognition honouree award for their contribution to African music, as part of the festival celebration.

Spearheaded by Fela’s daughter Shalewa Kuti, and supported by DLA World, the Felabration UK festival aims to foster unity and greatness within Africa and the diaspora, and will offer a show stopping experience from psychedelic stage performances, décor recreating the ambiance of The Shrine, and on-screen visuals to cultural dances and the best line up in Afrobeats artists to ever grace one stage live in the UK.

With music being an integral aspect of African culture, Felabration is one of the longest standing, most attended and groundbreaking music festivals in Nigeria, staging over 150 of the best African Artists over a one-week extravaganza at the New Afrika Shrine in Lagos, Nigeria. With its debut in the UK this August, Felebration looks set to spread its immense tradition and influence into Europe and diaspora.

Fela’s music and influence have travelled the global music landscape, and it is fair to say, that all Afrobeats artists are descendants of or influenced by Fela Kuti in some way, and for one day, the UK will celebrate Fela Kuti and host some of the biggest names in Afrobeats, Afropop and Afrosoul, who will incorporate and showcase Fela’s music, his charisma and razzmatazz on the big stage at Indigo At The O2 on Friday, August 30.

Meanwhile, the countdown has started for the yearly Felabration holding at the New Africa Shrine under the theme From Lagos With Love. This year’s festival runs from October 14-20, 2019, in the city of Lagos, where the event berthed in the first place and has remained its hub.

Opening the festival this year is the Felabration Art Competition, which throws up an art contest with a Fela theme among the public. This year, the theme is taken from a Fela’s hit, Teacher Don’t Teach Me Nonsense. Submission of entries began on May 1 and will end on the September 15. Thereafter, the works will be exhibited in the gallery of Kalakuta Museum from where a Group of Judges will determine the top three winning artworks and artists. These will be unveiled on Monday October 14, 2019, the opening day of the festival, which will also feature the traditional Symposium, The FELA Debates. Coincidentally, this year’s Symposium share same theme with the art competition, Teacher Don’t Teach Me Nonsense.

The deciding Judges Are Prince Yemisi Shyllon, Mr. Mufu Onifade and Ms. Sarah Boulos. Lemi Ghariokwu, legendary FELA’s Albums Covers Designer, will be the Special Guest of Honour at the event. The first prize winning artist goes home with N100,000, the first runner-up wins N75,000 while the third place winner takes N50,000.

Next will be Felabration Afrobics Dance Competition that seeks to espouse the ideals of Afrobeat dance, which has been described as the origin of what is today called the twerk. For this year, registration began on May 1, and will end on August 31. The competition proper begins with an audition on a date to be announced later, which the finals come up on Wednesday October 9, 2019, at the Freedom Park, Lagos.

The Secondary Schools Debates is the part of Felabration that reaches out to teenagers in the secondary schools. The idea is to sensitise young people in their teens, to the ideals of Africanism, by and large. Fela was very particular about children; he deliberately targeted them in his crusade. He even had a show, Sunday Jump, every Sunday afternoon, which targeted teenagers. It was an afternoon show, which allowed teenagers to leave their boarding houses or homes without raising eyebrows to attend the show.

So secondary, schools are pitch against each other in a war of wits and intellect evolving round a given topic. The debates are usually The Public Schools against the Privately Owned Schools. The theme of discourse this year is, Should Persons Above 70 Years of Age Be Allowed To Vie For Political Office? Ten secondary schools, five privately owned and five Public Schools, are in contention for the first prize. They were the ones, who successfully went through the initial hurdles; the names of the ten schools would be released on a later date.

Prizes range from computers, laptops, tablets which depict the academia where they belong, to music instruments like keyboards, drums which represent the tools of Fela, the man whose honour the Debates, are hosted.

The Fela Debate is the intelligentsia segment of Felabration. It is a Symposium and brainstorming session of eggheads usually chosen from across the globe. They discuss a given topic which most of the time, is Pan Africanist in content. This year, the topic of discussion is the title of Fela’s monster hit, Teacher Don’t Teach Me Nonsense.

Fela Debates flags of the Felabration mainstream, which is beyond the Art, Dance and Schools Debates competitions. Immediately after the debate, carnivals break loose. This year, the carnival holds on Monday, October 14, 2019, inside the Banquet Hall of the NECA Building, Ikeja.

Though the speakers are yet to be unveiled, the symposium have had the caliber of The Vice-President, Federal Republic of Nigeria, Prof Yemi Osibajo, Speaker, Federal House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila, Human Right Activist, Femi Falana, World Renowned Anti-Corruption Crusader, Prof. Patrick Lumumba from Kenya and other renowned speakers.

The Music Fiesta is what Felabration means to the larger society. Indeed, it is the high point, the face of the festival. This year, it starts from the evening of Monday October 14, 2019, by 6pm, into the wee hours of the next day, at 5am, to Sunday October 20. Already, almost all the A List musicians have signed up for the groove. Femi Kuti, WizKid, Davido, Burna Boy, Simi, Seun Kuti, Third World, Kimali Marley etc have all graced the stage in the past. International artistes are also always jostling to perform on Felabration’s stage, though the international headliner for this year is yet to be unveiled.

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