Fela Kuti: The Afrobeat Originator
Fela Kuti was born Olufela Olusegun Oludotun Ransome-Kuti in Abeokuta, Nigeria. He lived from Oct. 15, 1938, to Aug. 2, 1997.
Also known as Fela Anikulapo Kuti or simply Fela, he was a Nigerian multi-instrumentalist, musician, composer, pioneer of the Afrobeat music genre, human rights activist and political maverick.
His political consciousness inspired him to change what he called his “slave name” Ransome and adopt the middle name “Anikulapo,” meaning “to have control over death,” in the late 1960s.
In the 1960s, Kuti pioneered and popularized the Afrobeat genre, which is a combination of funk, jazz, salsa, calypso and traditional Nigerian music.
His rebellious song lyrics established him as a political dissident. Afrobeat was associated with making political, social and cultural statements about greed and corruption.