Wednesday, 16 October 2013

Fela Kuti on Thomas Sankara

When Uwa Erabor, Fela's assistant, took news of Thomas Sankara's assassination to the great man, his response was: "why on my birthday?" 
Indeed, the armed thugs who murdered one of Africa's finest sons had done their dirty job on Fela's 49th birthday.

The two men had a fondness for each other on a personal level and also shared similar views on Africa.

Here are a few other thoughts that Fela Anikulapo-Kuti had to share on Thomas Isidore Noel Sankara:

INTERVIEW with Basil Okafor - May 10, 1988

"Your friend Thomas Sankara has just been murdered. What did Sankara mean to you and how do you feel about his death?

(Long pause)… His departure is a terrible blow to the political life of Africans, because he was the only one talking about African unity, what Africans need, to progress. He was the only one talking. His loss is bad… (Long silence)… but my mind is cool because Sankara’s death must have a meaning for Africa. Now that Sankara has been killed, if the leader of Burkina Faso, today, is not doing well, you will see it clearly. This means that in future, bad leaders would be very careful in killing good leaders."

Later on, Fela would compose and record the song: "Underground System" as a tribute of sorts to the late great Sankara. Here's a review:

"Kuti originally conceived the piece as a tribute to Burkina Faso's revolutionary leader Thomas Sankara. The two men knew and liked each other: Sankara admired Kuti's music as much as Kuti admired Sankara's espousal of African values and commitment to social change. But following Sankara's assassination in 1987, Kuti broadened the lyric, turning it into an attack on the "underground system" by which military and political elites throughout Africa conspired together to remove any emergent leader threatening the status quo (and the post-colonial hegemony's ability to keep its trotters in the trough)."

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