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In Search of Fela Anikulapo Kuti

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Fela Anikulapo Kuti is certainly one of the major figures of 20th century music. In his lifetime, he became the legendary Afrobeat superstar, freedom fighter and counter-cultural figure in Nigeria and throughout West Africa, but little known outside. Fourteen years after his untimely death from complications arising from AIDS , his musical influence, legacy, myth and record sales are in full bloom across the world. But Fela remains an explosively controversial figure. The details and the significance of his life and of his legacy have become mythologised on the one hand and tidied up and made into a corporate heritage industry on the other. This book charts a way through the labyrinth.

Filled with a beguiling cacophony of voices, friends, family, musicians, critics, journalists, queens, residents of his Kalakuta commune… all talk about Fela: agreeing and disagreeing, accusing and supporting, rejoicing and mourning, criticising and applauding. Neither account nor biography …this is live discussion -- a forum -- about Fela, a man they all knew. Based round the 40 hours of recorded interviews with key people in Fela’s life (some now sadly departed), which took place on three continents on the way to making the authors' Sunday feature ‘In Search of Fela Anikulapo Kuti’ (for BBC Radio 3), plus new interviews, including Brian Eno, Seun Anikulapo Kuti and Val Wilmer, the book shapes the contributions into the thematic contours of Fela’s life.

Published: Mar 1, 2024


Section Chapter Authors
Fela Time Line Max Reinhardt, Rita Ray
Whose Talkin’ ’Bout Fela?: Details of the people behind the Voices Max Reinhardt, Rita Ray
Preface Max Reinhardt, Rita Ray
Chapter 1
Teacher Don’t Teach Me Nonsense (1938 – 1959) Max Reinhardt, Rita Ray
Chapter 2
The London Scene (1959 - 63) Max Reinhardt
Chapter 3
Its Highlife Time: The Highlife – Jazz Years (Lagos and Accra 1964-1968) Max Reinhardt
Chapter 4
Why Blackman Dey Suffer: Black Power, Black Panthers and the birth of Afrobeat (LA 1969) Max Reinhardt, Rita Ray
Chapter 5
Expensive Shit: African Superstar and the Shrine (1970-1974 Lagos) Max Reinhardt
Chapter 6
Zombie & Kalakuta Show: The Kalakuta Republic vs The Nigerian Army (1974-1978) and the passing of Africa ’70 (musical overview up to 1978) Max Reinhardt, Rita Ray, Rita Ray
Chapter 7
Sorrow Tears & Blood: the politics of Fela, The Black President (1978 onwards) Max Reinhardt
Chapter 8
Lady : Fela and Women Max Reinhardt, Rita Ray
Chapter 9
Underground System: Egypt ’80 (musical overview 1979 – 1997) Max Reinhardt, Rita Ray
Chapter 10
Everything Scatter: Fela’s Life in the ’80’s and ’90’s Max Reinhardt, Rita Ray
Chapter 11
Fear Not For Man/Who No Know Go Know: Fela: The legend, the cult, the orisha, the inspiration, the corporation, the industry Max Reinhardt, Rita Ray
Nigerian Highlife and Victor Olayia Max Reinhardt, Rita Ray
End Matter
Fela Discography Max Reinhardt, Rita Ray

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