In a recent interview with media personality Chude Jideonwo, Yeni Kuti, Fela’s daughter expressed her belief that if her father were still alive today, the overwhelming challenges faced by Nigeria would have led to his demise.
Fela Anikulapo-Kuti was an artist who used his music as a tool for social and political commentary. His songs were used to expose the corruption, oppression, and inequality prevalent in Nigerian society. Yeni Kuti emphasized that her father’s activism was not confined to his music alone; he actively used platforms like newspapers to voice his dissent. Fela’s weekly advertisements in prominent publications such as the Daily Times and later Punch, titled “Chief Priest says,” served as a direct critique of Nigeria’s leaders. His words challenged the status quo and sparked conversations that were, unfortunately, only fully appreciated after his passing.
Yeni Kuti expressed her belief that Nigerians did not fully recognize the importance of her father’s message until it was too late. The suffering and struggles that Fela highlighted in his songs have become even more pronounced in contemporary Nigeria. It is a painful realization that the issues he fought against with courage and tenacity have only worsened over time. This according to Yeni may have overwhelmed Fela had he lived to witness them firsthand.
When contemplating whether Fela died happily, Yeni Kuti acknowledges the complexities of his final years. Fela battled illness, and his declining health would likely have overshadowed any sense of happiness he could have experienced. More significantly, Yeni speculates that the intensification of the very issues Fela spoke out against might have been too much for him to bear. The Nigeria of today, with its deep-rooted corruption, socio-economic challenges, and political unrest, would have placed an enormous burden on Fela’s shoulders, potentially compromising his well-being.
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