Don't panic Fela Anikulapo-Kuti Nigeria's legendary musician has not risen from the dead, but via a fantastic play he has been brought back to life. After 4 successful years on Broadway Fela the play has found its way to the National Theatre in London.
It is a great achievement for ANY play to make it to the National Theatre and an even bigger achievement for a Black African play to feature and credit must be given to Bill T Jones and co- producers Jay Z (and I hear Will Smith) for having the courage and tenacity to push for it to come to the UK, in fact to even do the play at all.
After we all got to watch this great play on press night, there was a great celebration and after event and it was good to catch up with the cast including Sahr Ngaujah, who has played Fela for the past 4 years, Paulette Ivory & Melanie Marshall.
The highlight of the evening besides the play was catching up with old friends that I had not seen for many years like Atiti & Dele Sosimi of Afrobeat (he use to play for Fela as a youngster), Yeni & Seun Kuti as well as Femi Kuti who has taken over his fathers mantle and will soon start his UK tour for his new album Africa For Africa from the 27th November.
I was fortunate that as a youngster I was able to go to Shrine (this is the legendary place where Fela use to play in Ikeja, Lagos Nigeria) and as I was good friends with his late youngest daughter Sola (pronounced as written not like my name which is pronounced Sholla) I got to spend a lot of time both at Shrine and at his house and it was an experience I would never forget.
I do hope that the legal battle will be resolved sooner rather than later as the producers of Fela the musical are being sued by Carlos Moore an author who claims that they used his biogapghy Fela Fela, Cette Putain de Vie as the concept for the musical and not paying him the appropiate royalties. He is suing for £5m.
That aside I am hoping that it will find its way to Nigeria and it is rumoured that discussions are taking place with the Nigerian singer D'banz to play the role of Fela should it come to Nigeria.
This is a play that I very highly recommend that you go and see, I am aware that everyone is saying times are hard but it is worth the expenditure, so call the National Theatre and tell them that you wish to buy a ticket on Layaway!