One of the Motherland’s biggest stars, his music and legacy is celebrated throughout the world.
Here are a few clues for you:
1. He was sent to London at the age of 20 to study medicine but instead turned his attention to studying music.
2. His life was the subject of a musical, which came to London’s West End in 2010.
3. He is hailed as a music legend and is celebrated for pioneering a much-loved African music genre.
Have you got it?
It is, of course, African music hero Fela Kuti, who would have been 76 today.
Born in Nigeria to a feminist activist mother and a reverend father, Olufela Olusegun Oludotun Ransome-Kuti was meant to be a doctor, like his two brothers who had already entered the medical profession.
But upon being sent to England in 1958 to study medicine, the aspiring musician demonstrated the spirit of rebellion he was to become synonymous with when he instead decided to study music at the Trinity College of Music.
While here, he formed the band Koola Lobitos, playing a fusion of jazz and highlife.
He returned to Nigeria in 1963 and reformed Koola Lobitos, before relocating to Ghana in a bid to change his musical direction. It was here that the multi-instrumentalist first coined his music Afrobeat – a genre which remains celebrated worldwide.
A trip to America in 1969 introduced Fela to the Black Panther Party, which had a significant influence on his music and political views. He renamed the band Afrika ’70 and their musical themes became more heavily focused on social issues.
Widely considered a political maverick, Fela became a hero amongst the poor thanks to both his music and outspokenness.
He was equally well known for his ‘wild’ lifestyle, thanks to his penchant for marijuana and his sexual appetite – he famously had 27 wives.
He died on August 2 1997, due to AIDS-related complications and his funeral was attended by more than one million people. His life was the subject of the hit musical Fela!, which opened in The States before transferring to London in 2010.
Having lived a full and successful life, it’s perhaps no surprise the African hero once stated that he didn’t subscribe to regrets, instead considering his wrongdoings as experiences.
But what do you think? Can all mistakes be considered experiences and never be regarded as regrets? Tell us your thoughts.
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