Tuesday, 4 March 2014
Femi Kuti Meets Fela Anikulapo-Kuti On Broadway In New York
Last week was an electric one in "Fela!" the broadway show fashioned after the legendary Fela Anikulapo as his first son, Femi Kuti, showed up at the Eugene O’Neal Theatre on 49th Street with his band to watch the highly rated show.
Femi had performed at the Lincoln Center to an equally ecstatic New York crowd the previous day with unparalleled energy in a show filled with fulminations about the BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico and an unusually long "sex education" lecture dotting his "Beng Beng" track rendition.
It was an emotional Femi who, during the intermission told SaharaReporters the show brought his father’s memories back. He told us he felt emotional because he was always around the afrobeat king when the Nigerian authorities harassed, beat and jailed him several times. He booed African leaders who oppress their people.
He also addressed the reason why he changed his mind and came to see the show after telling the New York Times in Philadelphia that he was boycotting the show until it comes to Lagos, Nigeria. He said the show’s producer; Steve Hendel, has assured him that he would make its Nigerian debut before the end on 2010.
The encounter with Femi wasn’t without some drama as he got upset with Saharareporters when we asked him why he didn’t seem to take the kind of political risks his famous father took in confronting the Nigerian authorities. It was apparent that the question was Femi’s achilles' heel. He lambasted our reporter for expressing such an opinion, reeling off his achievements as a political fighter of note.
Femi later joined the show's cast for a few minutes for a memorable performance of Fela’s “I No Be Gentle Man”. The crowd went ballistic while Femi and some of the cast wept profusely.
"Fela on Broadway" is New York's most exciting broadway show, but art imitated life last month when the Tony Awards denied it the top awards due to it and instead gave them to a feel–good American broadway show named ‘Memphis’. It brought back to mind Fela's life when Nigerian authorities frequently denied Fela his liberty and freedom of expression. In addition, he experienced incarceration and exile, and his "shrine" was burnt down once.