Born 15 October 1938
Died 2 August 1997 (aged 58)
Fela was born Olufela Olusegun Oludotun Ransome-Kuti on 15 October 1938 in Abeokuta, Ogun State, Nigeria into an upper-middle-class family. He attended the Abeokuta Grammar School in Abeokuta. Later he was sent to London in 1958 to study medicine but decided to study music instead at the Trinity College of Music, the trumpet being his preferred instrument.While there, he formed the band Koola Lobitos, playing a fusion of jazz and highlife.In 1960, Fela married his first wife, Remilekun (Remi) Taylor, with whom he would have three children (Femi, Yeni, and Sola). In 1963, Fela moved back to Nigeria, re-formed Koola Lobitos and trained as a radio producer for the Nigerian Broadcasting Corporation. He played for some time with Victor Olaiya and his All Stars.
In 1967, he went to Ghana to think up a new musical direction.That was when Kuti first called his music Afrobeat. In 1969, Fela took the band to the United States where they spent 10 months in Los Angeles. While there, Fela discovered the Black Power movement through Sandra Smith (now Sandra Izsadore), a partisan of the Black Panther Party. The experience would heavily influence his music and political views.He renamed the band Nigeria ’70. Soon afterwards, the Immigration and Naturalization Service was tipped off by a promoter that Fela and his band were in the US without work permits. The band immediately performed a quick recording session in Los Angeles that would later be released as The ’69 Los Angeles Sessions.
He also changed his middle name to Anikulapo (meaning “He who carries death in his pouch”, with the interpretation: “I will be the master of my own destiny and will decide when it is time for death to take me”),stating that his original middle name of Ransome was a slave name.
Fela’s music was popular among the Nigerian public and Africans in general.In fact, he made the decision to sing in Pidgin English so that his music could be enjoyed by individuals all over Africa, where the local languages spoken are very diverse and numerous. As popular as Fela’s music had become in Nigeria and elsewhere, it was also very unpopular with the ruling government, and raids on the Kalakuta Republic were frequent. During 1972, Ginger Baker recorded Stratavarious with Fela appearing alongside Bobby Tench.Around this time, Kuti became even more involved in the Yoruba religion.
Fela and his band then took residence in Crossroads Hotel, as the Shrine had been destroyed along with his commune. In 1978, Fela married 27 women, many of whom were his dancers, composers, and singers to mark the anniversary of the attack on the Kalakuta Republic. Later, he was to adopt a rotation system of keeping only 12 simultaneous wives. The year was also marked by two notorious concerts, the first in Accra in which riots broke out during the song “Zombie”, which led to Fela being banned from entering Ghana. The second was at the Berlin Jazz Festival after which most of Fela’s musicians deserted him, due to rumours that Fela was planning to use the entire proceeds to fund his presidential campaign.
Despite the massive setbacks, Fela was determined to come back. He formed his own political party, which he called Movement of the People (MOP), in order to “clean up society like a mop”. In 1979, he put himself forward for President in Nigeria’s first elections for more than a decade, but his candidature was refused. At this time, Fela created a new band called Egypt ’80 (reflecting his reading of pan-African literature) and continued to record albums and tour the country. He further infuriated the political establishment by dropping the names of ITT Corporation vice-president Moshood Abiola and then General Olusegun Obasanjo at the end of a hot-selling 25-minute political screed entitled.
In 1984, Muhammadu Buhari’s government, of which Kuti was a vocal opponent, jailed him on a charge of currency smuggling which Amnesty International and others denounced as politically motivated.Amnesty designated him a prisoner of conscience,and his case was also taken up by other human rights groups. After 20 months, he was released from prison by General Ibrahim Babangida. On his release he divorced his 12 remaining wives, saying that “marriage brings jealousy and selfishness”.
Once again, Fela continued to release albums with Egypt ’80, made a number of successful tours of the United States and Europe and also continued to be politically active. In 1986, Fela performed in Giants Stadium in New Jersey as part of the Amnesty International A Conspiracy of Hope concert, sharing the bill with Bono, Carlos Santana, and The Neville Brothers. In 1989, Fela and Egypt ’80 released the anti-apartheid Beasts of No Nation that depicts on its cover U.S. President Ronald Reagan, UK Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher and South African State President Pieter Willem Botha, that title of the composition, as Barrett notes, having evolved out of a statement by Botha: “This uprising [against the apartheid system] will bring out the beast in us.”
Fela’s album output slowed in the 1990s, and eventually he stopped releasing albums altogether. In 1993, he and four members of the Afrika ’70 organization were arrested for murder. The battle against military corruption in Nigeria was taking its toll, especially during the rise of dictator Sani Abacha. Rumours were also spreading that he was suffering from an illness for which he was refusing treatment.
On 3 August 1997, Olikoye Ransome-Kuti, already a prominent AIDS activist and former Minister of Health, announced his younger brother’s death a day earlier from Kaposi’s sarcoma brought on by AIDS. More than a million people attended Fela’s funeral at the site of the old Shrine compound. The New Afrika Shrine has opened since Fela’s death in a different section of Lagos under the supervision of his son Femi Kuti.
The Afrokulcha team has once again put together a few books that we think are a must-read this month. We are super excited because there is so much African content to select from and we encourage you to take it one day at a time, you will eventually read them all, as long as you keep on, keeping on…
On the recommendation list for October:
The Hairdresser of Harare by Tendai Hunchu
Sometimes you need to go back before you go forward! This is Tendai’s first book before he wrote the Maestro, the Magistrate and the Mathematician. We love this book! It’s a beautiful story based in Zimbabwe. Think Hairdresser- Think Drama – Think so African!
Black Diamond by Zakes Mda
If you struggle to read this amazing authors very deep books, then start here because you can not live without reading Zakes Mda. This is an oldie but one of the best. A story based in South Africa, a bit freaky (read: scary) but one that you will love!
Dark Continent my Black Arse by Sihle Khumalo
Travelling in Africa can be exciting, nerve racking and absolute bliss at the same time! This book inspired us to start travelling Africa many years ago. Still relevant to this day, as author concurs The Cape to Cairo route and gives you a witty memoir of his travels.
Fela: This bitch of a life
on the 15th October we celebrate this legend’s birth! This is one autobiography you should not live without reading. If you enjoyed Hugh Masekela’s autobiography then you are sure to enjoy this one. Fela Kuti was a musician, pan Africanist, polygamist, activist, and political maverick.
Reading is an amazing journey.
It takes one thru a million experiences all in one novel.
From opening the cover you experience various emotions.
You fantacise to a point you want to live the characters lifestyle.
You fall inlove with some characters and hate others.
– Kerstin Kinsey
Join in as we read these fun light books written by African women:
As Ama’s wedding day approaches and her friends – Beauty, Matlakala and Pamela are there to lend varying degrees of support. But when tragedy strikes on Ama’s wedding day and spreads to every corner of the group’s lives they hold on to each other to survive. Will their misfortunes bring them closer together or will they tear the quilt of their friendship apart? They are our mothers, our sisters, our daughters, our girlfriends, our aunties. Pamela’s body is a ravaged canvas of her troubles. Matlakala tries to prop up a failing relationship. Beauty’s sharp tongue and dark secret threatens to doom her to a life lived alone. In To the Black Women We All Knew, Maenetsha showcases the modern township existence and its weakening yet ever-present link to tradition. Her vivid writing tells of the capriciousness of life and love and the strength of women in the face of a crisis.
In this collection, Ama Aita Aidoo explores postcolonial life in Ghana with her characteristic honesty and humor. Tradition wrestles with new urban influences as Africans try to sort out their identity in a changing culture. True to the tradition of African storytelling, the characters come to life through their distinct voices and speech. If there is no sweetness, there is the salt essential to life, even if it comes from tears, and the strength that comes from a history of endurance.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR : Dudu Busani-Dube is a news reporter based in Johannesburg South Africa. She is originally from Kwa-Mashu township in Durban. She discovered her love for writing when she was a student at Vukuzakhe High School. All her writings are based in first-person, particularly because she wants the reader to connect with the narrator and characters. She describes her style of writing as “raw with no restrictions, no rules, no rules obeyed, and no morals taken in consideration”
Once again, our team has put together a few recommended reading books for the month of August. The following African books:
Happiness is a four letter word
if you haven’t watched the movie, stop right there because the book is way better than the flick. If you have already watched the movie then reconsider reading this marvelous story about 4 women (yes 4 not 3 like in the movie). The 4th character was scrapped out of the movie. Such a pity as her story brings a true reality of our lives as women in the book. Enjoy the full book as written by Cynthia Jele.
There is something strange & eerie about the story within this book. At first it looks and sounds normal but as you read on, you will find it intriguing and rather informative about the life of modern day sangomas (the calling) but there is more to this than meets the eye.
Dancing to the beat of the Drum
This is one autobiography you don’t want to miss reading. Not only do we know Pamela Nomvete from our TV screens but we also know how many roles she has played that are dramatic. This book is equally dramatic! Decide for yourself!
Manifesto for Social Change: How to save South Africa
Now that the local government elections have come and gone. This book will indulge your many questions about the state of affairs in South Africa and more importantly, how and what needs to be done to save us from the status quo.
The Thabo Mbeki I know
When we talk about the strength and character of a man. This is it! Even better when it’s told by other people than himself. A book we should all read.
Reviewed by Mpumi Sithole (a client & friend of Afrokulcha)
Excellent read, it was impossible to put the book down…The book starts with the Germaine and Martin’s marriage in crisis after their teenage son, Zuko kills himself in their Johannesburg home. Zuko’s suicide drives a wedge between Martin and Germaine and one wonders if their marriage will survive. As you continue reading the story travels back in time to London in the summer of 1994 when Martin and Germaine first met. Martin is still nursing a break-up from a girlfriend he believed was the love of his life, when Germaine walks up to him in a bar and delivers a cheesy pick up line of all time: “What’s a guy like you doing in a place like this?”
They bump into each other again a couple of nights later, coincidentally, and their relationship takes off from there. They are opposites, Germaine is a headstrong feminist who is not afraid to say what’s on her mind while Martin is more laidback. Nevertheless they get along and they move in together, get married and have a child.
London – Cape Town – Joburg is also the story of a country, South Africa, undergoing change following the 1st democratic elections. When Germaine and Martin decide to move to Cape Town so that their son can be closer to his grandmother and his uncle, Liam, the story of the new democratic SA unravels and we experience the changes through their eyes — the ongoing racism, and the xenophobic violence.
Wanner has a very witty sense of writing and her characters are fun to explore, each one brings a different but much needed characteristic. The ending is almost unforeseeable, and takes you back to the beginning of the book. The book left me feeling that there has got to be more and wondering if Martin and Germaine ever managed to find their way back to each other. Their love story and life story is so inspiring
Zukiswa Wanner has done it again: London – Cape Town – Joburg is a cracking read…
Reviewed by Mpumi Sithole (a client & friend of Afrokulcha)
I had an absolute blast reading this book…I experienced all sorts of emotions, excited and happy for Joyce and Jonasi right at the time when their lives were going so well. Other emotions of shock, sadness, utter disgust. Sue Nyathi takes you in a gripping journey that takes you through the mind of a woman in love, a woman in love with a powerful man, a man who lives a polygamous lifestyle with an unsuspecting wife, who only later realises her marriage has been a sham all along. The story is relatable and candid. You will struggle to divide your attention to other things going on around, it grips you wholeheartedly.
The Polygamist is a story of four women whose lives are connected because of their love for one man, Jonasi Gomora. The story is told through the narration of the four women.
Joyce met Jonasi while waiting for her chauffer back home while they were both still at school. She later got married to Jonasi and is the legitimate first wife. She has four children by Jonasi, lives a luxurious life of driving expensive cars and a wardrobe full of expensive labels. She believes she has the best life and is happily married until Matapa makes an entrance into her life and turns her life upside down. Matapa is younger, ambitious, & smart and goes for what she wants. She wants to climb the corporate ladder working at J&J, Jonasi’s company, but end up climbing over Jonasi and eventually get her big break as an Assistant Director. Jonasi is intrigued by Matapa’s intelligence and of-course sexual prowess. Matapa rocks Joyce’s world to the point of no return, Jonasi even asked for a divorce in order to marry Matapa.
After Joyce and Jonasi’s 17th wedding anniversary party, Jonasi take Joyce on a cruise and rekindles his love for his wife and Matapa goes to China to refocus. Returning back she’s determined to get what she wants from Jonasi – a marriage which Jonasi succumbs to in order to win Matapa back.
Essie is introduced in the story after Matapa’s China expedition but she’s been there all along. She is Jonasi’s first love I believe, but strayed and fell pregnant with someone else’s child. She further has two children with Jonasi and is the one person that Jonasi does not have to pretend when he is with. She is the girl-next-door, ghetto fabulous and grew up with Jonasi and has known him before he was the man he became. Jonasi always goes back to Essie for sadza and to listen to his stories, she knows for sure he always comes back to her and Jonasi has not neglected her financially until he could not manage to.
Lindani is a beautiful young girl whose greatest assets are her body and beauty. She is lonely, sleeps with any available man and is hoping Farai marries her for security reasons. After countless abortions she decides she is done with abortions and will keep the baby she is carrying and rekindles her activities with Jonasi who sets her up in Matapa’s old house believing he is the father of the unborn child. She lives a luxurious life but one that soon comes to an end as she has to care for a sick and dying Jonasi until she cannot handle it any longer. Joyce once again comes through for the father of her children, and Jonasi dies in her arms.
After reading this book you cannot help but ask the question about the legitimacy of the polygamous marriages practice especially in times where the prevalence of HIV/AIDS is so widespread; where men have insatiable appetite for multiple women and not to mention the “Blesser” culture.
Are you an avid reader of books and have been wanting to join a bookclub? Have you thought about starting one? Here are a few tips on starting your own bookclub.
1. The people (members)
First things first, people make or break the success of a bookclub. Start with a core group of 2 or 3 friends who are like minded and have a similar interest in books. Ask these friends to invite other book readers or lovers of books not just friends unless they are friends who read. Remember this is a bookclub not a stokvel or social club, it must be people who will read books and review them.
2. Number of members
People who love reading meet in all types of places. At bookshops, at parties or just by striking up a conversation in a train or a bus. So finding 10-12 people to join or become a bookclub shouldn’t be so difficult. Remember you need a larger number of people in order to have enough people in attendance at each meeting as not every single people is always available. If you have 10-12 members, you are likely to get 7-8 members attending at each meeting
3. Where and how often?
Ask yourself what is a convenient place to meet? At a home, restaurant, libraries, clubhouse etc. pick a place that is quiet as noisy places don’t Forster good discussions and pick a place where you will feel relaxed. You can alternate hosting the bookclub as members. How often do you meet? Choose between monthly, every 6 weeks or every 2 months. Remember that it is not easy for some to finish reading a book in a short period because of life’s commitments getting in the way.
4. Admin and communication
Every bookclub needs to have a way of communicating. Today’s whatsapp world has made it easier as you can create a whatsapp group with a secondary option of using email. Give your book club a name – a form of identity.
5. Set ground rules
Clear ground rules of the bookclub, informs members on expectations. These ground rules should cover the following areas: how to choose book club hosts? What should the host provide (venue, food, drinks?), how long should meetings be? What happens to late comers (punctuality)? What happens to members who don’t attend meetings? What happens to members who don’t read the required book quota? Be sure to write down all the ground rules for future members enrollment.
Remember: Bookclubs are meant to be fun, just like reading is. It is important to have a modus operandi on how you pick book titles and how you present reviews & discussions in order to get the
most out of your bookclub gathering. Talk as members and see how you want to run your bookclub.
Most of all, have a blast!
*Nonkululeko is the founder & member of the Bookclub Rockstars.
Cosy up with these following books this July 2016 as you enjoy a little bit of Africa. A few books picked by our team from our bookstore at www.afrokulcha.com.
1. One of the best autobiographies ever written (well, according to us). It has all the juicy stuff from music, booze & drugs, quick divorces, flings & sex, and ooh so many fun & games. What an amazing life he has lived. One book you can’t afford to live without reading!
2. This fiction novel by Zukiswa Wanner is a lovely light read which will leave you smiling from ear to ear. The typical men of umzansi revealed, there are 3 types of men which you find in SA and their story is one you will laugh, nod your head to and certainly enjoy!
3. This Steve Biko’s book will remain the one book every South African must read, especially every black person in the world.
4. Without his knowledge, we have nicknamed this author “the cat with nine lives” 😆 Read about his story, of cos you might recognize all the characters mentioned in the book because he broke their story in the news. Find out why he has nine lives like the cat!
5. When we talk about overcoming life and it’s challenges, when we talk about strong women, izimbokodo! This book will leave your heart crushed but smiling for God has a plan for us all.
7. We couldn’t decided which of Angela Makholwa’s book to recommend first. Why? Because she writes like a pro. When we read her books, we felt like a friend was telling us a juicy story that we couldn’t wait to hear. All based in South Africa, great for lighter reading for first time African fiction readers.
By D.S. Mashego
Any person who discusses the politics and socio-economic life of South Africa will not do justice to the topic if such a discussion excludes the ideology of apartheid. This is the ideology that created disparities between black and white South Africans, that worsened relations between the two races, and that empowered a white man while disempowering a black man.
Apartheid does not come from God and there is nothing godly about this ideology. It has ‘evil’ written all over its face. It is in fact an insult to the black race to still hear some white South Africans praising and advocating apartheid in this day and age. How can this system be godly if it questions God’s creation, black folk? How can God be part of such an idea that seeks to dehumanise other human beings, black folk? It cannot be!
Agree with me when I say that apartheid has put a black man in a bad space. Nobody has to explain apartheid for me. I lived during those times when this horrendous system was at its prime. By God’s grace I was able to witness the dawning of a new South Africa. The ANC-led Government has a mammoth task of redressing the damage caused by the apartheid system. There are just too many socio-economic issues that the black man has to deal with daily. Black South Africans’ hopes are on the ANC-led Government. Thus far the black community is not happy with the rate at which change is effected in black communities.
The black community is blaming the government for failing to deliver on its promises. In response to the blame, the government blames apartheid for failing to deliver on its promises. Twenty one years since our first democratic elections, our government still blames apartheid. Of course progress has been made. However, more can be done. Where government fails, it must be frank and bold enough to concede failure.
Government aside, maybe we also need to pose the following question for a black man: What is the black man doing to help himself? There is a lot that we can do to better our lives. Unfortunately, black folk want things given to them on a silver platter. They want to be given a house, a grant, etc. for free.
This is a point that the book is trying to convey. This book is a must read. Unlike many books that tend to talk about the black folk; this book talks to the black folk. It tells of where we come from, where we are, and where we need to be as a country. It challenges the
black man to:
• Move to a new paradigm by changing his way of thinking;
• Account for his actions and decisions;
• Refrain from blaming others, including apartheid, for everything that goes wrong in his life;
• Accept and feel good about the person he is;
• Assume a new role in the economy of South Africa.
The book also encourages white South Africans to:
• Acknowledge that apartheid was wrong;
• Embrace the change, from apartheid to democracy;
• Learn to coexist with Blacks in South Africa;
• Partner with black folk and work towards building
The book provides a fresh perspective pertaining to South Africa’s political and socio-economic dynamics. No stone is left unturned – a spade is called a spade. The book is written in simple English to ensure that it is easy to understand and that a person with minimal education can read it and understand its concepts. The writing style is non-academic and relaxed, making it an interesting read. Read the book. Undertake serious introspection and make the necessary amendments in your life and in your environment. Communal change starts with one person. Enjoy the book!
These words, she said.
These words are a remembrance of the first time that word and ink crossed paths. The serenity brought out by the milk white backdrop of the pages beneath. These words are transported, wave by wave, by the inspiration of this talent. They are the glitter of the castles in the air. These words…she said.
Turn the page.
These words, he said.
These words are the amorous nibble into the delusive mind. Drawing out breath strokes of art, blowing them like an arrow, straight into the heart. These words are the sheepishly warm skin of skill, scratched with the lightness of imagination. It’s the grip. It’s the scent. That surrenders all power. These words…he said.
Turn the page.
Find a book to turn your page with at https://www.afrokulcha.co.za/
As it is #youthmonth in South Africa, it is only appropriate that we began the #100daysofAfricanReads with African authors under the age of 35 years.
Book: To quote myself by Khaya Dlanga
Book: Sweet Medicine by Panashe Chigumadzi
Book: The Pavement Bookword by Philani Dladla
Book: The Yearning by Mohale Mashigo
Book: The Reactive by Masande Ntshanga
***The Love of Reading***
You. You look like my next love poem.
The next syllable standing in the line
of inspiration. The iambic pentameter
to my heart beat. The depth to these
words. It’s all You. It’s True.
You. You feel like the next clause to my
smile. The breath captured in September
The book read in March.
You. You are the plural to us. The
punctuation to my disappointments. The one
word that the dictionary cant define. Yes.
You. You are the chocolate stain on this page. It
Cannot be removed. Its your smile. It’s your eyes.
That Plant yellow roses in swimming pools.
You. You look like my next love poem.
You. You are my mattress made of books. The
Author of many worlds. The scribe to
the language of my lips. The rhyming scheme
to my joy. You. You are the next line I shall read.
**May you find your love (book) at Afrokulcha’s bookstore, https://www.afrokulcha.co.za/ ***
A poem by Nompumelelo Mthethwa, written for Afrokulcha
Afrokulcha is an online shop that provides an African shopping experience to the discerning buyer. Afrokulcha was established with the sole purpose of bringing African products made by Africans to the world! The idea was formed with the stance of reclaiming our African heritage and showcasing it. The afrokulcha fashion line grew extensively and became what afrokulcha is now know for: an African fashion line that caters for everyday African fashion for men, women and kids.
Afrokulcha has now expanded to a literary focus by offering an online bookstore. This online book shop offers an interesting and informative buying experience. It allows you to buy books suited to your interests, while relaxing at home, at anytime of the day or night.
Whilst online book browsing and buying is indeed transforming the way readers and an author come together, Afrokulcha seeks to change the difficulty of finding African Authors in normal bookshops. Afrokulcha offers a huge variety of authors and titles, not only the popular ones but also the lesser known ones for the avid African reader.
Afrokulcha will be hosting a 100 day campaign to promote African authors and their books. This would be a digital campaign where authors, their books and reviews would be featured. As part of this campaign, African readers are encouraged to post pictures of them reading their favourite African author’s book.
Special features over the next 3 months will be done, and will be communicated in due course
According to Wikipedia, “The dashiki” is a colorful men’s garment widely worn in West Africa that covers the top half of the body. It has formal and informal versions and varies from simple draped clothing to fully tailored suits. A common form is a loose-fitting pullover garment, with an ornate V-shaped collar, and tailored and embroidered neck and sleeve lines.
The word “dashiki” has roots in Nigerian Yoruba and Hausa culture and is generally translated as “man’s shirt.” The Dashiki was made popular in the western parts of the world by Oba (Yoruba word for king) Ofuntola Oseijeman Adelabu Adefunmi, who was born Walter Eugene in Detroit, Michigan, USA in 1928. He became interested in African Studies at the age of 16, and travelled to Haiti at the age of 20 in order to be exposed to African religion from indigenous Africans. Soon after, he returned to the U.S. and began a small scale manufacturing business which included African attire, most notably dashikis. (Wikipedia)
Today, many African Fashion houses such as Afrokulcha, offer their clients dashiki in different styles – available online at www.afrokulcha.com
Dashiki fabrics, also known as Angel or Angelina fabric, are made in a variety of colours. The best quality of this fabric comes from West Africa in countries such as Ghana, Nigeria, Togo, Benin, Ivory Coast etc. There are many imitations that have surfaced from other countries such as China. Take caution!
Do it for Africa, For the love of dashiki, the love of African print.