Media Resource

Remembering Fela

Fela Anikulapo-Kuti
Photo caption

Nigerian artist Fela Anikulapo-Kuti, a founder of the Afrobeat music style.

This Afropop Worldwide podcast discusses the music and legacy of Nigerian artist Fela Anikulapo-Kuti, a founder of the Afrobeat music style. Fela was known for his non-conformist style, both musically and in life. Much of his music critiques the Nigerian state and the aftermath of British colonialism; as a consequence, Fela was the victim of great violence at the hands of police and military. Fela continued to level lyrical criticisms of corruption and brutality in the government until the end of his life. He died from complications of AIDS in 1997.

Learn More

Listen to other Afropop episodes about Nigerian music.

Read about the musical adaptation of Fela's biography. (Podcast host Sahr Ngaujah played Fela in the Broadway musical)

View a photographic timeline of Fela's life.

Classroom Connections

Though Chinua Achebe's Things Fall Apart and Fela's musical production bracket the date of Nigeria's official independence from England, both artists grapple with the experience of colonization and subjection and the ways this is expressed in language. As an extension of the lesson Chinua Achebe's "New English" in Things Fall Apart, ask students to listen to and read the lyrics of one of the following songs by Fela:

  • "Why Black Men Dey Suffer" (1971)
  • "Colonial Mentality" (1977)
  • "Lady" (1972)

The following questions can serve to guide reflection:

  • What do you notice about the ways both Achebe and Fela use language in their work?
  • How is a critique of British colonialism made in English both paradoxical and powerful?
  • How do women, and violence against them, figure in Things Fall Apart and "Lady"?