Fela Kuti: Ten Thoughtful Quotes
22 years later, Fela lives on.
Today marks 22 years since musical icon, Fela Anikulapo Kuti, passed on. Well known for pioneering the Afrobeat genre, especially with his provocative music, Fela was a multi-instrumentalist, humans rights activist, political maverick, and revolutionary who was never afraid to stand up for his beliefs. He was one of Africa’s most controversial musicians who, frustrated with the willingness of Nigerians to accept oppression, fought throughout his life for the rights of the common man despite vilification, harassment, and even imprisonment by the Nigerian government. Kuti was strongly influenced by parents, his mother being Funmilayo, a leading figure in the nationalist struggle.
Here are ten quotes from the legend, Fela Kuti:
1. About music, he said: “Music is the weapon. Music is the weapon of the future.”
2. To the military and law enforcement methods, he sang: “Zombie, oh, zombie, Zombie no go go unless you tell am to go, Zombie no go stop unless you tell am to stop. No brake, no jam, no sense.”
3. On his frustration of the oppression of Nigerians, he said: “My people are scared of the air around them, they always have an excuse not to fight for freedom.”
4. On Nigerians’ suffering at the expense of corrupt politicians and political leaders, he sang: “My people dey shuffering and smiling, everyday na the same thing. Suffer, suffer for world, enjoy for heaven.”
5. On religion and spirituality, he said: “To be spiritual is not by praying and going to church. Spiritualism is the understanding of the universe so that it can be a better place to live in.”
6. On the play titled ‘A fool at 40’, Fela once said: “They say a fool at 40’s a fool forever. I won’t say that to my brother. Change if you’re a fool at 20/30. Don’t wait until u’re 40.”
7. To black women who bleached their skin, he sang: “Yellow fever, you dey bleach o, you dey bleach, ugly thing. Who say you fine? Na lie.”
8. In “Water no get enemy”, Fela sang: “Water e no get enemy. If you fight am unless you wan die. I dey talk of black power.”
9. On fear, Fela said: “I refuse to live my life in fear…The secret to life is to have no fear.”
10. Lastly, on death, Fela said: “I hold death in my pouch, I cannot die.”
Know any other quotes by this remarkable man that you cannot forget? Do share in the comments section below.
Fela lives on!