Dear Democracy Now! Visitor: We are an independent, ad-free daily news program that serves millions of viewers and listeners each month. Our show is special because we make it our priority to go where the silence is. We put a spotlight on corporate and government abuses of power and lift up the stories of ordinary people working to make change in extraordinary times. We do all of this with just a fraction of the budget and staff of a commercial news show. We do it without ads, corporate sponsorship or government funding. How is this possible? Only with your support. If everyone who visited our website in the next week donated just $15, we would cover all of our operating costs for the year. We can't do it without you. Please donate today. It takes just a couple of minutes to do your part to make sure Democracy Now! is there for you and everybody else.

Your Donation: $

Thursday, August 14, 2003

  • Fela Kuti The Black President : An Hour Remembering the Legendary Nigerian Afrobeat Singer, We Speak with his Son Femi and his Biographer Michael Veal

    Felaweb

    Six years ago this week over a million Nigerians took to the streets to mourn the death of Fela Kuti, the great bandleader and political dissident who had succumbed to AIDS. He is viewed by many as the greatest African musician of the last half-century.

    By the time of his death in 1997 he had released 77 albums. He once established a short-lived independent country within Nigeria named the Kalakuta Republic. He was arrested some 356 times for his political dissidence.

    In one case 1,000 troops under the dictator Obasanjo, now president again, stormed his compound with mortar fire. They repeatedly attacked, beat and raped members of Fela’s extended family. They threw his mother and brother from a window. Fela was hospitalized. His mother eventually died of her injuries. She was a well-known anti-colonialist and feminist. She started the Nigerian Women’s union and was an inspiration for Fela throughout his life. Following her death in 1978 Fela brought a replica of her coffin to Obasanjo’s house.

    Fela established a new form of music, Afrobeat, which combined the funkiness of James Brown, the politics of Kwame Nkrumah, the soulfulness of John Coltrane with a base rooted in traditional African music.