The Black President

Fela Kuti

Musician and activist Fela Kuti pioneered “Afrobeat” music and was repeatedly arrested and beaten for writing lyrics that questioned the Nigerian government. He was born on October 15, 1938, in Abeokuta, Nigeria. Beginning in the 1960s, Fela pioneered his own unique style of music called Afrobeat. Rebelling against oppressive regimes through his music came at a heavy cost. Fela’s rise in the early 1970s paralleled the downfall of the hopes Africans pinned on their newly won Independence. As a whole, Africans were again living in incarcerated societies; Nigeria, he said, was a “prison of peoples”. Africa had fallen mostly into the hands of uncaring thieves and scoundrels who were unmindful of wrecking society in order to sustain insolent lifestyles. To reclaim Africa’s stolen dignity became Fela’s obsession. Fela was arrested 200 times and endured numerous beatings, but continued to write political lyrics, producing 50 albums before he died on August 2, 1997, in Lagos, Nigeria. 

image credit: Test Pressing