Monday, April 19, 2010

Fela Anikulapo-Kuti

(a glorious sunset)

If you have not seen the musical, Fela Anikulapo-Kuti, you will want to. Having no expectations except that it was recommended by my friend Stephanie Berry, an actor and playwright, I arrived at the Eugene O'Neill Theatre to see the Musical. We were met by a line of ticket holders that ran a block long. Well, the wait was worth it! The musical was excellent, high energy and fast paced. The writer, Bill T. Jones, captured the story of an extraordinary activist musician, Fela and flung him onto the stage in living color with the rhythms, beats, style, colors and sounds of Fela. The cast is everywhere, including on stage, in the aisles, above us and around us. The stage was set continuously for the Shrine, Fela's club where he holds court and treats the audience to dance, song, music and the culture of his world infused music as he talks the audience through the play. Interspersed throughout the musical and the beautiful beats and sounds Fela introduces us to his mother, Funmilayo Anikulapo-Kuti. Funmilayo, an activist, was killed six months before Fela performed his last concert in 1987. He died August 2, 1997 due to a heart attack and complications of Aids. His mother was tragically killed when she was thrown off the 2nd floor of a building during a raid on his compound by the Nigerian government. This was one of over 200 incidents in which Fela was harassed by the Nigerian government for his outspoken opinions and opposition to the corrupt government.

Fela is visited by the spirit of his deceased mother who refuses to grant him permission to leave Nigeria or to use the excuse of her death to withdraw from his opposition to the Nigerian government.

The musical achieves what most art should aspire to, it entertains and educates its audience about a great musician and activist.

Q. Who provides inspiration in your life? Why?

Blessings! Rev. Qiyamah