Fela Kuti: Music Is the Weapon
Ozah, Marie Agatha, Yearbook for Traditional Music
Filmed in 1982 in Lagos, Nigeria, by the French producer Stéphane Tchal-Gadjieffand cinematographer Jean Jacques Flori, this 53-minute documentary combines concert footage and interviews with Fela Anikulapo Kuti (1938-1997), the legendary innovator of Afrobeat. The directors establish and describe Fela's musical activism from the global world to the local arena-Kalakuta Republic in Lagos. While Fela samples and describes Nigeria, Rhodesia (Zimbabwe), and South Africa in the context of Africa and uses Lagos to represent Nigeria, he visualizes Kalakuta Republic (the residence of the King and Black President) as the ideal.
A biographical sketch includes his birth in 1938 to a middle-class Christian family and travels to England and the United States. Details of his ten-month stay in Los Angeles highlight his contact with the works of Malcolm X and the Black Power Movement, experiences that would change his life and ways of thinking, and which he would trail until his death in 1997. Live scenes interspersed with voiceover annotations and Fela's narratives and music/lyrics as backdrop provide valuable information about his family, personal life, music, politics, Pan-Africanism, and religion. These scenes vivify the corruption and poverty in Lagos in addition to the harassments, tortures, and brutalities that Fela suffered at the hands of the government regime-one of such incidents led to the death of his mother. Footage of his nightclub, Shrine, provides insights into the space where Fela "preaches," performs music, and honours the Yorùbá deities who he believes bestow the giftof music/musicianship, which is to be used for the good of mankind. Fela's quest to become president stems from his zeal to assuage the sufferings of the poor and to reclaim Nigeria's (then Africa's) stolen wealth and dignity.
An added excerpt (in 2009) features Sahr Ngaujah, the actor who played the role of Fela in the Broadway musical based on his life. …