Thursday, June 21, 2007

With Death in Their Pouches


I was delighted to have the opportunity to watch a free showing this week of a film called "Music is the Weapon" about the life and music of the great Nigerian Afrobeat legend Fela Anikulapo Kuti. Being a longtime fan of Fela I decided to view the film (along with my mother and Cuz) shown outside on the union terrace at the Univerity of Wisconsin Memorial Union. There's nothing like watching a movie with the sun setting in the backround, sailbots swaying back and forth. Now I've done research on Fela before for school and so not too much of the information was new to me but its still very interesting to watch the old footage of Fela in action, whether ranting about corruption of performing on stage at his club the Afrika Shrine in Lagos, Nigeria.

The story of Fela's struggle for musical freedom and demands for governmental accountability are very entertaining to watch. If you look close you can even see Fela's son Femi playing saxophone in the background. Since Fela died in 1997 from AIDS, Femi has largely carried the torch of Fela's musical legacy, helped most recently by another of Fela's sons Seun. Seun is actually going to play at the Union next Wednesday with Fela's old Egypt 80 band and I think I'll check it out. Seun's style is very similar to his father's while Femi, though still an Afrobeat star, has found his own unique sound. All however, play the sax and dance shirtless on stage. Compare the videos of each from youtube. First a clip of Fela from the Music is the Weapon film (found on youtube in segments), then Femi, then Seun. If you want another great live DVD, the Femi's Live at the Shrine DVD+CD is really good. He speaks of jis father and the famous Shrine venue. I would strongly recommend it.


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