[Fela Kuti: Music Is the Weapon | 2.23.12]
I enjoyed this documentary on the Nigerian Jazz Musician Fela Kuti.
To be entirely honest, I had never heard about who he was until Jay Z & Jada Pinkett Smith produced a broadway show about him. I saw the high flying dancers and the bright costumes and I was immediately intrigued.
I will never get to see the fresh performance as it debuted in New York. However, it is not too late to learn what he stood for, his belief in the 9 traditional spirits in Yoruban (and Afro Cuban) cults, his political stance and his lifestyle of resistance that created a movement.
I have also never heard of a saxophonist that ran for president other than Clinton. I guess that’s my Americanness talking.
What I loved about this documentary was that it showed how political unrest, in the midst of beatings (this mans scars are very real) and corruption there is this freedom that arises from loving where you’re from and claiming your innocence. People all over the world are being inspired by stories of resistance (Fela was inspired by the American Civil Rights Movement when he visited in 1969). We are a brotherhood and a sisterhood, deeply connected by our unique yet similar stories.
Theres a part in the movie where the narrator says,
"In Los Angelos, Fela reads The Autobiography of Malcolm X over and over again. He wants to become a hero—a Black hero. He writes his first protest songs. Across the ocean, 3800 miles from home, Fela discovers Africa."
I am not sure if Fela specifically aimed to be a Black hero, so much as he understands colonialist powers and Black Nationalism.
We are not identical but we are related. He read the same autobiography I have by my bedside The Autobiography of Malcolm X. Spike said it changed his life too. Which is why I picked it up in the bookstore when I first saw it in high school.