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The original African

Two years after political activist Ken Saro-Wiwa was executed by Nigeria's military regime, Adewale Maja-Pearce remembers Fela Kuti, creator of Afrobeat and fellow rebel

“Everybody should try as much as possible to live an independent life and be proud of himself as an African. That’s all.” Fela Kuti

There were a number of things I admired about Fela Kuti, the Nigerian musician who died of Aids on 2nd August. First and most important was his music. Fela introduced a completely new sound, Afrobeat, which was at once non-traditional and recognisably African. It consisted of Fela himself, alternating between organ and sax, plenty of horns, a strong percussion section, bass and lead guitars, and a chorus of female singers. (When you hear the opening bars…

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