Fela: Life and Times of an African

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Temple University Press, 2000 - Music - 352 pages
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Musician, political critic, and hedonist, international superstar Fela Anikulapo-Kuti created a sensation throughout his career. In his own country of Nigeria he was simultaneously adulated and loathed, often by the same people at the same time. His outspoken political views and advocacy of marijuana smoking and sexual promiscuity offended many, even as his musical brilliance enthralled them. In his creation of afrobeat, he melded African traditions with African American and Afro-Caribbean influences to revolutionize world music.

Although harassed, beaten, and jailed by Nigerian authorities, he continued his outspoken and derisive criticism of political corruption at home and economic exploitation from abroad. A volatile mixture of personal characteristics -- charisma, musical talent, maverick lifestyle, populist ideology, and persistence in the face of persecution -- made him a legend throughout Africa and the world. Celebrated during the 1970s as a musical innovator and spokesman for the continent's oppressed masses, he enjoyed worldwide celebrity during the 1980s and was recognized in the 1990s as a major pioneer and elder statesman of African music. By the time of his death in 1997 from AIDS-related complications, Fela had become something of a Nigerian institution.

In Africa, the idea of transnational alliance, once thought to be outmoded, has gained new currency. In African America, during a period of increasing social conservatism and ethnic polarization, Africa has re-emerged as a symbol of cultural affirmation. At such an historical moment, Fela's music offers a perspective on race, class, and nation on both sides of the Atlantic. As Professor Veal demonstrates, over three decades Fela synthesized a unique musical language while also clearing -- if only temporarily -- a space for popular political dissent and a type of counter-cultural expression rarely seen in West Africa. In the midst of political turmoil in Africa, as well as renewal of pro-African cultural nationalism throughout the diaspora, Fela's political music functions as a post-colonial art form that uses cross-cultural exchange to voice a unique and powerful African essentialism.
 

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Fela the life & times of an African musical icon

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Fela was born in Abeokuta, Nigeria, in 1938 into an upper-middle-class family whose members included several well-known educators and religious figures. In 1958, he was sent to London's Trinity ... Read full review

Fela the life & times of an African musical icon

User Review  - Not Available - Book Verdict

Fela was born in Abeokuta, Nigeria, in 1938 into an upper-middle-class family whose members included several well-known educators and religious figures. In 1958, he was sent to London's Trinity ... Read full review

Contents

Introduction Abami Eda
1
Abeokuta 19381957
21
Gentleman 19581970
39
African Message 19701974
77
The Black President 19741979
121
A Serious Cultural Episode 19791992
167
Fear Not for Man 19851997
221
Conclusion Look and Laugh
241
Koola Lobitos Nigeria 70 Afrika 70 and Egypt 80 Personnel
261
Notes
263
Bibliography
283
Discography
295
Index
301
Copyright

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About the author (2000)

Michael Veal is Assistant Professor of Ethnomusicology at Yale University. In addition to being thoroughly grounded in the literature on Nigeria, African music, and the world music scene, he played as a guest saxophonist with Fela and his band Egypt 80, and has conducted interviews with Fela himself, and with his colleagues and other Nigerian musicians.

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