Catherine Onyemelukwe

Author, Blogger, Speaker

Fela and His Music

Fela, His Music, and His Activism

Do you remember the Nigerian musician Fela Anikulapo-Kuti?

His life was featured in the award-winning musical on Broadway simply called “Fela.” The musical ran from 2009 to 2011. Clem and I saw it with our friends Ruth and Jack. It had a world tour in 2012 and a Broadway revival a year later, Wikipedia tells me. This video is less than a minute. I like the opening seconds the best.

“A spectacularly inspiring and triumphant tale of courage, passion and love, FELA! is based on the life of Fela Kuti, who created Afrobeat—a blend of jazz, funk and African rhythm and harmonies—and mixed these sensual eclectic rhythms with simple but powerful lyrics that openly assailed Nigeria’s corrupt and oppressive dictatorships,” the website says.

I knew about Fela for many years in Nigeria. He was an amazing musician. He was also an activist and a constant thorn in the side of the Nigerian military regimes.

Fela died twenty years ago. For several years there has been an event celebrating his life called Felabration.

Our son Sam with his company TraceNaija is part of the planning and preparation of this year’s festival.

The planners are crowd-funding for support for the festival itself, to bring in musicians from all over Africa. In addition the funding is also to “develop and establish the existing archival collection of Fela Anikulapo-Kuti, making public a history of Pan African activism by the Nigerian musical icon.”

“We invite you to participate in our campaign to ensure the legacy of Afrobeat burns brighter than ever,” they say. Here’s the link to the site, Felabration 2017.

I will make a contribution.

Charlottesville’s Disturbing Events

The events in Charlottesville on the weekend were disturbing. I was wondering what to say. Then I read Dan Woog’s blog post. In his blog 06880 he talks about the events through a Westport connection.

I will leave you to read his thoughtful post.

My sister Beth is visiting, and I need to stop writing, set up the Scrabble board, and to defeat her!

Author: Catherine Onyemelukwe

Author, blogger, speaker. Born in New York, grew up in mid west United States, lived in Nigeria for 24 years, back in U.S. since 1986. Advocate for racial justice.


  1. Nice reading your blog Catherine. Fela was an amazing Nigerian but his mother, Funmilayo, was at least his equal in stature and achievements. There is a wonderful biography out on her.