BLACK GUYS TAKING PICTURES OF WHITE GUYS PAINTING FELA’S GRAVESITE

This may well be the longest title for anything I’ve written. ANGU comes close, but no cigar.

At first glance the statement doesn’t seem like a big deal. Fortunately, in the modern age, racism is steadily being addressed, so a white guy painting a black guys grave it’s like.. nothing to see here; but to those who are accustomed to Fela’s music it’s pretty damned ironic, to me it’s downright hilarious…

Fela Kuti
Fela Kuti

For those who may not know him, the late Fela Kuti is a grammy nominated musician and human rights activist. His music was made famous in the 80’s for its funky sound, and its issues that ranged from corrupt politicians to promoting African tradition to fighting European imperialism.

So basically Fela would make fun of Nigerians for venerating the white man. It’s pretty amazing then, that when the compound for his gravesite, the famed “kalakuta republic” was repainted recently, it was done by white Europeans. No doubt it validates his music, but it shows an ugly side as well..

kalakuta3

Fela is a piece of African history, and wanted to be seen that way. If so, his message is surely lost if his legacy isn’t protected by Africans. It’s funny enough that he is viewed as a Nigerian artist, many of his catalogs are controlled by European companies. Those that were produced in Nigeria were ultimately destroyed by err.. Nigerians.

Which brings us to the crux of the matter, the reason why Africa underdeveloped itself (shout out to Walter Rodney), that Africans do not (did not? could not?) protect their own legacy; or just do not want to.

And it’s not just Fela Kuti that’s affected. For some reason, Nigeria’s greatest products will somehow find themselves being exported to the west.. whether it was the looted Benin bronze art collection, or it’s unrefined crude oil, or computer genius Philip Emeagwali.

It has gone on for so long that even presently, there is a lingering notion that Nigerian creativity isn’t important till it has been “outsourced” to the west, take for example soul singer Asa, or literary giant Wole Soyinka, or the late Chinua Achebe, or even Jay Jay Okocha and Kanu. Now, some 18 years after his death, African music has taken on more European themes, so has fashion and religion. There’s been an entire culture shift in fact, hell I might never have reached you if this article wasn’t done in Queen’s English.. The west must have done something right.

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