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This Is What Lagos' Felabration Looked Like

Since 1998, Felabration has congregated Fela Kuti fans at the New Afrika Shrine in Ikeja. Here's what went down this year.

Since 1998, Felabration has congregated afrobeat enthusiasts, social justice advocates, and most importantly Fela fans, at the New Afrika Shrine in Ikeja, to celebrate the life of the late Fela Anikulapo Kuti.


In its 18th year, the weeklong event, which ran from October 10th to October 16th, seems more timely than ever given Nigeria's current political and economic climate. Concert attendees mused at the premonition of Fela's lyrics and the eerie way in which they are currently playing out in Nigerian politics.

"To me, Fela is a prophet," said Felabration attendee, Adeyemi Awotilu. “All that he said in the past is happening now."

Femi Kuti, who took the stage at the Felabration finale was a crowd favorite. Although the eldest Kuti offspring is a regular at the New Afrika Shrine, the crowd marveled at his performance, which depicted the politically charged essence of his father, but stayed true to his unique musical style.

Flanked by dancers clad in flamingo pink costumes and his band, Kuti played multiple instruments, sang, danced and still found time to join other acts like Nneka and his brother, Seun Kuti on stage.

Regardless of how well his performance was received, Kuti emphasizes that Felabration is not about him or Seun.

“Anyone can see us during the week at the Shrine," said Kuti. “Felabration is more about us welcoming the artists that come to pay their own respects to Fela."

Artists like Nneka, Waje, Jesse Jagz, and Patoranking, who individually graced the stage to honor the legend and invoke his spirit. On the Felabration stage, artists seemed to channel whatever Fela-like energy they could by gyrating to the piercing sounds of the saxophone or engaging in Fela's infamous call and response with the crowd.

For Adetola Gbogboade, Felabration is a place to learn about Fela. Surrounded by posters, t-shirts, CDs and other promotional material immortalizing Fela, millennials are still unravelling his music and his message nineteen years after his passing.

“From Fela's music and being at Felabration, I've learned to believe in myself, in what I think, in what I believe is true and positive about the world," said Gbogboade. "I've also learned that just because the world is following this path, doesn't mean that I should follow the same path. Believe in yourself, believe in what you feel is right."

A fan basks in the moment. Photography by OkayAfrica.

When asked if he was a Fela fan, Felabration attendee, Hamid Ayodeji noted that Fela's music raised him.“The fact that he saw the future before everyone else and he fought for something is inspiring."

Young artists like Akorede Sax use Felabration as an opportunity to pay tribute to the legend. Sax whose performance was modeled after Fela, echoed both Gbogboade and Ayodeji's comments, “His music inspires people to do great things and that's what Afrobeats is all about, inspiring people to do great things."

During his performance, which closed the event on Saturday night, Seun Kuti explained to the crowd that the history of afrobeat is rooted in struggle, resistance, and hope.

“They think say Afrobeat na only for dance, Afrobeat na for struggle," mused Kuti before launching into a song from his recently released EP. “Afrobeat gives people the hope and the resistance they need to defeat the elitist ideology in our society."

Seun Kuti and the Egypt 80 perform songs of the new EP, Struggle Sounds. Photography by OkayAfrica.

For other attendees, Felabration serves as a place of fellowship. Many noted that in spite of the economic hardships facing Nigeria, Felabration is a place where “everyone can come the way they are," said Helen Ajomole.

According to Felabration attendee, Austin Imonlaime, “Fela's kind of music, isn't music, it's a message"

“Even when the prophet dies," continues Imonlaime, “the message remains, and I think it's the message that brings everyone together. It's the message that unifies people."

All photographs by OkayAfrica.

A fan relaxes. Photography by OkayAfrica.

Suya at the Shrine. Photography by OkayAfrica.

A young fan. Photography by OkayAfrica.

A young fan. Photography by OkayAfrica.

Waje speaks of Fela under a watchful eye. Photography by OkayAfrica.

A fan overlooks the stage. Photography by OkayAfrica.

Nneka at the Shrine. Photography by OkayAfrica.

Jesse Jagz at the Shrine. Photography by OkayAfrica.

New acts also took the stage. Photography by OkayAfrica.

Seun Kuti. Photography by OkayAfrica.

Femi Kuti and his dancers. Photography by OkayAfrica.

Inside Fela's home, several pictures of Fela and his heroes hang on the walls. Photography by OkayAfrica.

Dancer at the Shrine. Photography by OkayAfrica.

Patoranking. Photography by OkayAfrica.

A fan basks in the moment. Photography by OkayAfrica.

A fan overlooks the stage. Photography by OkayAfrica.

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Introducing OkayAfrica's 100 Women 2020 List

Celebrating African Women Laying the Groundwork for the Future

It would not be hyperbole to consider the individuals we're honoring for OkayAfrica's 100 Women 2020 list as architects of the future.

This is to say that these women are building infrastructure, both literally and metaphorically, for future generations in Africa and in the Diaspora. And they are doing so intentionally, reaching back, laterally, and forward to bridge gaps and make sure the steps they built—and not without hard work, mines of microaggressions, and challenges—are sturdy enough for the next ascent.

In short, the women on this year's list are laying the groundwork for other women to follow. It's what late author and American novelist Toni Morrison would call your "real job."

"I tell my students, 'When you get these jobs that you have been so brilliantly trained for, just remember that your real job is that if you are free, you need to free somebody else. If you have some power, then your job is to empower somebody else."

And that's what inspired us in the curation of this year's list. Our honorees use various mediums to get the job done—DJ's, fashion designers, historians, anthropologists, and even venture capitalists—but each with the mission to clear the road ahead for generations to come. Incredible African women like Eden Ghebreselassie, a marketing lead at ESPN who created a non-profit to fight energy poverty in Eritrea; or Baratang Miya, who is quite literally building technology clubs for disadvantaged youth in South Africa.

There are the builds that aren't physically tangible—movements that inspire women to show up confidently in their skin, like Enam Asiama's quest to normalize plus-sized bodies and Frédérique (Freddie) Harrel's push for Black and African women to embrace the kink and curl of their hair.

And then there are those who use their words to build power, to take control of the narrative, and to usher in true inclusion and equity. Journalists, (sisters Nikki and Lola Ogunnaike), a novelist (Oyinkan Braithwaite), a media maven (Yolisa Phahle), and a number of historians (Nana Oforiatta Ayim, Leïla Sy) to name a few.

In a time of uncertainty in the world, there's assuredness in the mission to bring up our people. We know this moment of global challenge won't last. It is why we are moving forward to share this labor of love with you, our trusted and loyal audience. We hope that this list serves as a beacon for you during this moment—insurance that future generations will be alright. And we have our honorees to thank for securing that future.

EXPERIENCE 100 WOMEN 2020

The annual OkayAfrica 100 Women List is our effort to acknowledge and uplift African women, not only as a resource that has and will continue to enrich the world we live in, but as a group that deserves to be recognized, reinforced and treasured on a global scale. In the spirit of building infrastructure, this year's list will go beyond the month of March (Women's History Month in America) and close in September during Women's Month in South Africa.

100 women 2020

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Burna Boy 'African Giant' money cover art by Sajjad.

The 20 Essential Burna Boy Songs

We comb through the Nigerian star's hit-filled discography to select 20 essential songs from the African Giant.

Since bursting onto the scene in 2012 with his chart-topping single, "Like to Party," and the subsequent release of his debut album, L.I.F.E - Leaving an Impact for eternity, Burna Boy has continued to prove time and again that he is a force to be reckoned with.

The African Giant has, over the years, built a remarkable musical identity around the ardent blend of dancehall, hip-hop, reggae, R&B, and afropop to create a game-changing genre he calls afro-fusion. The result has been top tier singles, phenomenal collaborations, and global stardom—with several accolades under his belt which include a Grammy nomination and African Giant earning a spot on many publications' best albums of 2019.

We thought to delve into his hit-filled discography to bring you The 20 Essential Burna Boy Songs.

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(Photo Illustration by Rafael Henrique/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images)

Rejoice! WhatsApp Places New Restrictions on Chain Messages to Fight Fake News

To combat the spread of misinformation due to the coronavirus outbreak, users are now restricted from sharing frequently forwarded messages to more than one person.

The rise of the novel coronavirus has seen an increase in the spread of fake news across social media sites and platforms, particularly WhatsApp—a platform known as a hotbed for the forwarding of illegitimate chain messages and conspiracy theories (if you have African parents, you're probably familiar). Now the Facebook-owned app is setting in place new measures to try and curb the spread of fake news on its platform.

The app is putting new restrictions on message forwarding which will limit the number of times a frequently forwarded message can be shared. Messages that have been sent through a chain of more than five people can only subsequently be forwarded to one person. "We know many users forward helpful information, as well as funny videos, memes, and reflections or prayers they find meaningful," announced the app in a blog post on Tuesday. "In recent weeks, people have also used WhatsApp to organize public moments of support for frontline health workers."

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Sarkodie Hits Hard With His Latest Single 'Sub Zero'

The Ghanaian heavyweight rapper shows up with the fire bars over an Altra Nova-produced beat.

Sarkodie has dropped a new aggressive track in the shape of "Sub Zero."

"Sub Zero" follows the star Ghanaian rapper as he throws back criticisms that have come his way from other rappers with his own ice cold flow. The new track was produced by Ghanaian beatmaker Altra Nova and mixed by PEE On Da BeaT.

"Sub Zero" follows Sarkodie's turn-up single "Bumper," which dropped bak in February.

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