I’d have to ask you to pardon me but anytime I hear Fela, all I think of is Weed! Weed!! Weed!!!. I was at Day 4 of this year’s Felabration, an annual one week music festival conceived by Yeni Anikulapo Kuti in memory and celebration of her father and I was not proved wrong. The air was filled with Marijuana Stench and it was being sold openly even though its illegal in the country.
Fela was the pioneer of the Afro-beat genre and a weed junkie, he played a significant role in Nigeria’s development process with his revolutionary music. He was known for his freedom songs and opposing corruption by the government of the day through his lyrics. In the process, he gathered admirers and followers.
Fela’s albums criticized Human rights abuses during the military era. “Obasanjo dey there with big fat stomach”, “Yar’Adua dey there with neck like Ostrich,” Fela sang. He called Buhari, the current President, former Military head of state and once federal minister for petroleum under Obasanjo an “International Thief Thief” and ‘Animal in human skin’. He regarded their rule as “Army Management” after 2.8 billion naira oil funds was reportedly missing.
I was at Felabration at the New Africa Shrine with Jadesola a friend who is down for most. We wondered why its called New as it doesn’t look new by any standard. We were there quite early and there already a bunch of people waiting for the event which started at 8pm daily.
We decided to do a bit of moving around before the program started and took a couple of pictures in the process. It was quite a rough crowd but the security was tight.
Someone offered to take us pictures of us but we decided against it and took each in turn for fear of our phones been carted away with. Our fears were probably exaggerated but we were just being cautious and safe with our belongings as is expected when in a crowd.
The highlight of the event for me was the performance by Adekunle Gold, urban highlife singer who also performed some of the songs by the Afrobeat legend.
The New Africa Shrine located at at 1, NERDC road, Agindigbi Ikeja. The Shrine has a reputation for being the only place where smoking weed is legal in the country so if you are headed there and do not smoke weed, be prepared to smoke passively. The shrine is open everyday and one of the few tourist attraction sites associated with Fela.
Have you ever been to the New Africa Shrine or for Felabration? What was your experience like?