Fela Anikulapo-Kuti would be 79 years old this month, had he not died from complications of AIDS in 1997. By the time of his death, Fela was the inventor of the enduring and influential Afrobeat music style, the composer of an enormous body of music, and one of the bravest political voices in 20th century African music. It is fair to say that no African musician before or since has sacrificed more for the principles he believed in. Nigerian history and music have barreled forth during the two decades since Fela left us. A powerful new generation of Nigerian musicians have emerged in that time, and the music they now champion has been dubbed “Afrobeats,” an appropriation of the name Fela gave his original sound during its heyday. The youngest artists on the scene today have no direct memory of Fela, though his legacy is impossible to escape. In this program, we hear from current day Nigerians from multiple generations and genres—fuji, juju, hip-hop (Afrobeats) and highlife—on how they remember this musical giant, and how they reckon with his complex and challenging legacy.
Produced by Banning Eyre and Morgan Greenstreet. Hosted by Sahr Ngaujah.