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An hour with Fela Anikulapo Kuti

By Joseph Edgar ….
I spent an hour with the Abami Eda yesterday. I went to his house in Ikeja which with the help of the Lagos State government has been turned into a museum preserving just a little bit of the maestros life.
As I entered the compound, I felt an eerie feeling evade my consciousness and the smell of that wonderful herb of his choice floating all around in the air further threw my consciousness into an abyss of illusion. I saw myself float directly to his bedroom. This was where Fela spent the better part of his later life.
His bedroom, was his workshop, his laboratory where those ingenious works where created and crafted and where he had his bend bend sleep. The tour guide, a very young boy with eyes glazed from the abuse of Igbo mentioned to me how Fela used to ‘take four women for that bed’ and truly, I saw the bed prepared for four people with four pillows neatly placed and ready for the beautiful African woven heads of his queens.
His mattress was on the floor. Two mattress placed on top of each other and a huge bed sheet covering the mattress and spreading it’s comforting ambience towards the floor in preparation for two extra companions. As I stood there in a haze of Igbo, I could actually see the Abami Eda humping away at some full bodied African Queen and as he ‘dey bang dey go’ the other three dutifully awaiting their turns and just maybe touching themselves in preparation for the very powerful phallic thrust of the king himself. I hear it is during these sessions that such masterpieces like Beast of No Nation and Teacher don’t teach me rubbish were created.
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His bedroom held my fascination. I saw his very first saxophone in its ancient majesty, boldly standing there near his bed, I saw his custom made clothes; those very tight shirts that he used to neatly tuck into the very tight pants which used to proudly expose the size and girth of his very famous manhood. The shirts where neatly hung on top of his bed, and just across the bed was a deep freezer.
I wondered why that was kept there. Maybe to refresh himself after each round. A very old tin of Dustin powder stood on a small dressing mirror, no longer needed but still left there to remind us of the ‘craw craw’ that pervaded Fela’s skin at the onset of the illness that took him from us.
The next room was where his shoes and famous undies where kept. He was famous for wearing those undies on stage and taking interviews in them. He was unabashed about the image, couldn’t care less, and even itched his very insides as he spoke about the ills of the society all to the amusement of his fans, but to the consternation of other myopic fools who pretended to be more English than the queen.
I only saw two undies but I am sure he had much more than that. May be the rest were burnt by the marauding soldiers sent by Obasanjo when his empire was attacked and decimated.
I saw the drum he bought in Benin. That drum was mythical and wasn’t just an ordinary drum and that is why it was locked up in a separate room far from visitors but near enough to take a picture with. His album covers graced the ground floor and it took you on a journey into Fela’s life, his thinking and his vision for the society.
The tour guide showed us his little prison where he kept offenders and showed us a spot in the house that drips water mysteriously. I wondered if there was a leaked pipe under the building and he was now trying to sell this story to justify the 1,000 he took from me for this tour. He swore on the Igbo he just dragged that the water was truly mysterious.

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This led us to a picture of high priests who were called upon to perform some rituals at Fela’s grave side immediately after his death. The story was that Fela haunted the house, switching off lights, slamming doors still rebelling even in death so his spirit had to be appeased hence the ritual.
The tour ended in his marble glacéd grave. I noticed that the memorabilia was not quite as impressive as they were scanty. The young man explained that he had lost all during the attack of the Kalakuta republic and I felt ashamed of myself for not remembering that black spot in our country’s life.
The shrine is opened everyday of the week for visitors. I highly recommend it and will be taking my children there to see a part of Nigeria’s history that remains a corner piece in our emancipation as a people.

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Ripples Nigeria

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