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Book: In Search of Fela Anikulapo Kuti

Chapter: Preface

DOI: 10.1558/equinox.25008


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 into 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 …its more like a time capsule (circa 2004/5) of a living breathing conversation/discussion/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 and Val Wilmer, the book shapes the contributions into the thematic contours of Fela’s life.

Chapter Contributors

  • Max Reinhardt ( - book-auth-232) 'DJ and Writer'
  • Rita Ray ( - book-auth-233) 'DJ and Broadcaster'