The annual festival held in memory of the good works of Nigerian music legend and activist, Fela Anikulapo Kuti, “Felabration” started on Wednesday with schools debate at Freedom Park, Lagos. The festival is scheduled to continue tomorrow, October 9th with yet another edition of “The Fela Debates 9″ with Kenyan activist, Professor Patrick Lumumba as the keynote speaker.
‘Felabration’ is an annual music festival conceived in 1998 by Yeni Anikulapo-Kuti in memory and celebration of her father Fela, who is also a human rights activist known for the promotion of the afrobeat genre of music.
Journalists have reported that students from no less than 10 public and private secondary schools across Lagos participated in the debate, with the theme, “African History; A Curriculum Necessity.”
In Yeni’s words, the debate was to improve and encourage intellectualism among young minds.
“You know Fela had his intellectual side and he believed so much in intellectual debates. This debate was conceptualised to nurture and encourage the culture of intellectual debates amongst the young ones.”
“With the continuous support of the Lagos State Ministry of Education and the ‘Felebration’ committee members, we have been able to pull it through over the years,” she said.
The schools that participated include: King’s College, Cayley College, Apata Memorial Secondary School, Ogudu Secondary School, and Epe Girls Senior Secondary School. Others were Bowen College, Oke Odo Senior Secondary School, and Bethlam College, all based in Lagos.
Bowen College came first in the debate, while all the participating schools were rewarded with various gifts.
Professor Lumumba will be delivering his keynote address on the theme, “40 Years After Festac, 20 Years After Fela, Wither…. The Pan-African Dream.” The topic is meant to drive home the struggles of the Africa and how things have gone sour in the continent, especially with leadership, two decades after Fela’s demise. Professor Lumumba is known for his powerful, thought-provoking speeches and he has a reputation for triggering African leaders into action from his detailed objectivity and directness.
Afrobeat genre of music, a style Fela largely created, is a fusion of Jazz, Funk, Ghanaian/Nigerian High-life, psychedelic rock, and traditional West African chants and rhythms.
Fela was known for his dexterity with musical instruments and showmanship and his concerts were often quite rare and wild.
He referred to his stage act as the “Underground” Spiritual Game, a possible reason he constructed the shrine that today, still stands tall as one of Lagos’ major centres of love.
Most of songs were mostly sung in Nigerian Pidgin English, although he also performed a few songs in the Yoruba language.
Fela’s main instruments included the saxophone and the keyboards, but he also played the trumpet, electric guitar, and took the occasional drum solo.
“The Fela Debates 9” is scheduled to start at 11 a.m at the NECA Hall, Hakeem Balogun Street, Ikeja, Lagos.