Fact Magazine celebrates the life of Fela Kuti in it’s story “Remembering the Shrine, Fela Kuti’s Shamanic Temple and Political Soapbox” by Robert Barry. The story includes poignant quotes from Femi Kuti on the significance of the history of the Shrine.
“Femi recalls returning home one day, after having moved back in with his father as a teenager, to find his house on fire: “I was coming back from school and I saw all the soldiers there. I ran back to tell my mother that the house was burnt.” Fela’s 75-year-old mother was thrown out of a first floor window and died a few months later from the injuries. Her son responded by delivering a coffin to the official residence of the Head of State, Olesogun Olesanjo.
An even more brutal raid came about four years later. “They picked us up at the Shrine and took us all to the police headquarters,” says Femi. “That’s when I saw him. They had handcuffed his hands to his legs and they threw him in the back of a Land Rover and he was bleeding from head to toe. They beat him so much he remembered his spirit leaving his body. He thought he was dead. And then when he felt his spirit go back into his body, he never felt so much pain his life. They told him to sit in the corner of the cell and told me to sit on the chair. I refused. I got up and went to sit beside him. They took him to a special police station where they normally put people that are charged for armed robbery when they want to execute them. Then they locked me back in the cell. It probably was the biggest raid I witnessed.”
It must have taken incredible determination to carry on in the face of that kind of brutalisation. “I think that’s why a lot of people appreciate him,” suggests Femi. “Because he had so many opportunities to leave the country and seek political asylum. He could’ve stopped talking and just had a good life. He was already very famous. But he never compromised. So I think this is why he is still very relevant.”
The story also includes an interview with our very own Rikki Stein, Fela’s manager of 15 years (who helped to build this very site!) Rikki recalls when he first heard Fela and the Africa 70…
““I was lying in the back of a Mercedes van on the M4 motorway, lying in a heap of African dancers, on our way back from a gig. Somebody put on a cassette and it was ‘Sorrow, Tears and Blood’. And I was gobsmacked. You know, sometimes you hear something that really registers. I thought, who the fuck is this? He was talking to me. I just felt some real affinity.””
Read more HERE.