The Michigan Daily - Friday, November 7, 1986-- Page 9
Fela returns to U. S. after long delay
By V J Beauchamp
Fela is here! Tonight will be the
premiere midwestern performance of
Fela at the Fox Theatre in beautiful
downtown Detroit. Hailed as
Africa's top musician, Fela and his
band, Egypt '80, will present
"Afrobeat," a style that is uniquely
his own, combining traditional and
popular African music, jazz,
rhythm and blues, and James Brown
style funk. Showtime is 9 p.m.
"Music is my weapon of the
future," claims Fela. His full
Yoruban name, Fela Anikulapo
Kuti, means one who generates
greatness, who carries death in his
pouch, and whose death cannot be
caused by a human entity alone.
Fela certainly generates publicity.
Now after nearly a year and a half in
Sjail on trumped-up charges, the
dissident Nigerian superstar is free.
The story of his imprisonment
is pretty well known. Fela became
aware of the predicament of
Africans in modern society and the
corruption in the various Nigerian
governments in his early twenties.
In a '68 tour of the U.S., he learned
about Malcolm X, and the Black
Panthers, who had a great effect on
him. At this point his music
became a political protest of what
was going on within Nigeria, as
well as without. This by no means
endeared him to the Nigerian
In September '84, Fela and his
group were embarking on their first
U.S. tour since 1970, when Fela
was arrested at the airport for
having 1600 pounds sterling
undeclared in his possession,
despite having just declared this
money to the Currency Exchange
Control. With the charge of
smuggling foreign currency, he was
condemned by a military tribunal to
five years in prison with no
recourse to appeal.
Between the efforts of Amnesty
International, Fela's many fans and
friends from all over the world, and
the citizens of Nigeria, Fela was set
free. Finally, after 20 months in
various Nigerian prisons, he was
unconditionally released, and the
judge who sentenced him confessed
that he had acted under pressure
from the military.
Like King Sunny Ade, and Chief
Commander Ebenezer Obey, Fela
has also taken on a title: that of
Black President. He is perhaps as
popular in his homeland, as Bob
Marley is/was in Jamaica, and he
believes this popularity may lead
him to assume the presidency of
Nigeria. He is somewhat
ambivalent about this, but has said
that it's not because he wants to be
president, but because he wants a
As his country's bravest street
spokesman against colonialism and
corruption, Fela is truly prolific as
well. Unfortunately, Celluloid
Records' rereleases such as "No
Argument," "Army Arrangement,"
"Mr. Follow Follow," "Upside
Down," and "Shuffering and
Shmiling" are about the only
recordings that Americans can buy,
but these can give a good taste of
what the singer/composer/ instru -
mentalist and his mates are up to.
He sings, most often, in pidgin
English, which sometimes renders
the lyrics difficult to understand.
Just as with Jamaicans, Africans
use pidgin to show black pride .
However, Fela also speaks the
international language of inflection,
as well as hypnotic music.
Fela Anikulapo Kuti, with his
outspoken politics, personal
charisma, adventurous lifestyle, and
extremely danceable music, is sure
to put on a great show. He takes a
lot of things to extremes: 27 wives
is one of the more famous. His
band includes 30 musicians. And
his shows are usually at least 3
hours of feverish dance music.
That's the sort of extreme I like!
It'll be all happening at the historic
Fox Theatre at 9 p.m. Tonight.
Put on your dancing shoes.
Special Blend COFFEES
By the cup, or ground
by the pound.
Eateries & Commons
This Weekend Only!
:..... ".. ~aisx ,,y,!SHOW
A RARE COLLECTION OF UNRELEASED OUT-TAKES
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Eastern Michigan U. Sill Hall No. 2
E-Z to find on Forrest St. between Perrin and Ballard
7 p.m. and 9p.m. each night-Adm. $5
imite good $1 off with EMU I. D. or this ad
Limited good seating - Come Early - No children please
Get Ready for Winter!
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769-2088 Ends Saturday, Nov. 8!
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