Afrobeat legend late Fela Anikulapo-Kuti popularly called Abami Eda is the known for hit songs including Zombie and Water No Get Enemy. Fela was born in 1938, before returning to Lagos in 1978, he studied classical music at Trinity College in London in the early 1960s. He is also known for his strong political views against corruption among Nigerian leaders, controversies surrounding his marrying 27 wives on the same day and death in 1997 from an illness relating to Aids. Fela lived a controversial life however one undisputed fact remains, he is one of the greatest Afrobeat musician of all times, as Paul McCartney puts it when he saw him play in Lagos in 1972, “They were the best band I've ever seen live … I couldn't stop weeping with joy.”
The world still remembers the Afro beat maestro, a two-and-a-half hours theatre musical mirroring his life and exploring his songs and dance moves has been on show since November 2009 at The Broadway Theatre in New York. The musical has had outstanding reviews according to Ben Brantley of the New York Times ‘there should be dancing in the streets. There has never been anything like this.’ It has won 3 Tony Awards this year including best choreography. According to the New York Times “there should be dancing in the streets”.
The show's executive producers are rapper Jay-Z, and actors Will and Jada Pinkett Smith. According to Will Smith, “His life inspired a nation and his soulful Afrobeat rhythms ignited a generation.” The show has also been praised by A-list celebrities including Madonna, Spike Lee and Oprah Winfrey.
Its original Broadway cast opened at the London’s National Theatre November 6, 2010 to a standing ovation from the audience. Actor Sahr Ngaujah who plays Fela did is a brilliant performance alongside its stellar cast and has landed the musical a four star rating. The musical takes its theme six months leading to the death of the Fela’s mother Fumilayo Kuti and the burning down of the African Shrine in 1978.
For those of you that did not see the Broadway show, catch the London performance if you can are lucky to still get tickets. If not, no worries, Fela will be broadcast live to cinemas around the world on 13 January 2011.
For more information, visit: www.nationaltheatre.org.uk