The annual festival to commemorate the life and times of Nigerian musical icon, Fela Anikulapo-Kuti, opened on Wednesday with schools debate at Freedom Park, Lagos.
‘Felabration’ is an annual music festival conceived in 1998 by Yeni Anikulapo-Kuti in memory and celebration of her father Fela, also a human rights activist known for pioneering the afrobeat genre of music.
Newsmen report that students from no fewer than 10 public and private secondary schools across Lagos participated in the debate, with the theme, “African History; a curriculum necessity.”
According to Yeni, the debate was to 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 participating schools include King’s College, Cayley College, Apata Memorial Secondary School, Ogudu Secondary School, and Epe Girls Senior Secondary School. Others are 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.
Afrobeat genre of music, a style Fela largely created, is a complex fusion of Jazz, Funk, Ghanaian/Nigerian High-life, psychedelic rock, and traditional West African chants and rhythms.
Fela was known for his showmanship, and his concerts were often quite outlandish and wild. He referred to his stage act as the “Underground” Spiritual Game. His 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.