Fela Anikulapo Kuti Biography: Age, Wife, Children & Net Worth

Fela Anikulapo Kuti – Zombie

Stage Name: Fela
Real Name: Fela Anikulapo Kuti
Occupation: Musician
Date Of Birth/Age: 15th October, 1938 – 2nd August, 1997
State of Origin: Ogun State
Gender: Male
Nationality: Nigerian
Marital Status:
Education: Trinity College of Music
Known for: Zombie

Fela Aníkúlápó Kútì, born Olufela Olusegun Oludotun Ransome-Kuti on October 15, 1938, was a Nigerian musician, bandleader, composer, political activist, and Pan-Africanist. Known as Abàmì Ẹ̀dá and regarded as the King of Afrobeat, Fela’s life was a dynamic blend of music, politics, and a relentless fight against the oppressive Nigerian government. This biography explores the key aspects of Fela’s life, from his early years to his lasting legacy.

Early Life

Olufela Olusegun Oludotun Ransome-Kuti was born into the Ransome-Kuti family, an upper-middle-class Nigerian family, in Abeokuta on October 15, 1938. His parents, Chief Funmilayo Ransome-Kuti and Reverend Israel Oludotun Ransome-Kuti, were prominent figures in the anti-colonial movement. Fela’s early exposure to activism shaped his worldview, and he attended Abeokuta Grammar School before being sent to London in 1958 to study medicine. However, his passion for music led him to the Trinity College of Music, where he formed the band Koola Lobitos.

Afrobeat Emerges

In 1963, Fela returned to Nigeria, re-formed Koola Lobitos, and embraced a fusion of jazz and highlife, creating his unique style known as Afrobeat. In 1969, he took his band to the United States, where he was exposed to the Black Power movement. This experience profoundly influenced his music and political ideology. He renamed the band Nigeria ’70, reflecting a shift in lyrical themes from love to social issues.

The Kalakuta Republic and Activism

In 1970, Fela founded the Kalakuta Republic commune, declaring it independent from military rule. The commune became a hub for his music, political activities, and communal living. Fela set up the Afrika Shrine, a nightclub where he regularly performed and officiated Yoruba traditional ceremonies. His music, sung in Pidgin English, became immensely popular, but it also drew the ire of the Nigerian government, leading to frequent raids on the Kalakuta Republic.

In 1977, Fela and Africa ’70 released the album Zombie, a scathing critique of Nigerian soldiers. The government’s response was brutal, raiding the Kalakuta Republic with 1,000 soldiers. Fela was severely beaten, and his mother died from injuries sustained during the raid. Undeterred, Fela responded by delivering his mother’s coffin to the residence of General Olusegun Obasanjo and creating songs like “Coffin for Head of State” and “Unknown Soldier” in protest.

Polygamy and Political Party

In 1978, Fela married 27 women as a statement against the government’s false claims of kidnapping women. The marriage also marked the anniversary of the attack on the Kalakuta Republic. In the same year, he formed the Movement of the People (MOP), a political party aimed at addressing societal issues. However, MOP’s activities were curtailed due to confrontations with the government.

1980s and Political Opposition

In 1980, Fela signed a management deal with French producer Martin Meissonnier and released the album Black President. This marked the beginning of his European tours. In 1983, he formed a new band, Egypt 80, advocating for the recognition of African contributions to civilization. Fela’s outspokenness extended to his critique of ITT Corporation’s vice-president, Moshood Abiola, and President Muhammadu Buhari.

In 1984, Fela nominated himself for the Nigerian presidency, but his candidacy was rejected. The government, led by Buhari, retaliated by imprisoning Fela on charges of currency smuggling. Amnesty International labeled him a prisoner of conscience, and after 20 months, he was released. Fela divorced his 12 remaining wives upon release, citing the negative impact of marriage on his life.

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Later Years and Legacy

Fela continued to release albums with Egypt 80, addressing issues like apartheid with the 1989 album Beasts of No Nation. His political activism persisted, and he performed at Amnesty International’s A Conspiracy of Hope concert in 1986. In 1993, Fela faced legal troubles, including charges related to the murder of an electrician.

On August 2, 1997, Fela Kuti passed away from complications related to AIDS. Despite being an AIDS denialist, his contributions to music and activism were monumental. His son, Seun Kuti, took over the leadership of Egypt 80, ensuring the continuation of Fela’s musical legacy.

Musical Style

Fela’s musical style, known as Afrobeat, was a complex fusion of jazz, funk, highlife, and traditional Nigerian rhythms. Influenced by James Brown, his band featured unique elements such as extended instrumental breaks, complex rhythms, and socially conscious lyrics. Fela’s energetic and theatrical stage presence, combined with his elaborate costumes and dance routines, created a mesmerizing live experience.

Net Worth

Fela Kuti’s estimated net worth was around $1.4 million dollars before his death in 1997. He has an active Instagram account handled by his team,.