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Fela Kuti and Ginger Baker. (Photo by Echoes/Redferns/Getty Images)

Remembering Ginger Baker's Afrobeat Collaborations With Fela Kuti

After Cream, Baker spent several years in the 1970s living and recording in Nigeria, most notably with Fela Kuti.

Ginger Baker, pioneer British rock drummer and co-founder of the band Cream, passed away yesterday. He was 80-years-old.

"Baker had been suffering from myriad ailments, including chronic respiratory illness and osteoarthritis," Okayplayer reports. "On September 25th, his family asked fans to keep Baker in their prayers, as he'd reached a critical point that warranted hospitalization. And [Sunday] morning, they informed fans on Facebook the drummer had 'passed away peacefully.'"

Baker was well-known across the world for his work with Cream, the group he formed alongside Eric Clapton and Jack Bruce.

Once Cream disbanded—and short stints with projects like Blind Faith and Ginger Baker's Air Force—the drummer turned his attention to Africa, eventually building a recording studio in Lagos, Nigeria.

The documentary, Ginger Baker in Africa, follows him as he traveled by Range Rover from Algeria to Nigeria, across the Sahara Desert. Once he reached Lagos, he started setting up the studio. Though it took some times to figure out, and several setbacks, Batakota (ARC) studios finally opened at the end of January 1973.


Read: The 10 Best Fela Kuti Songs

The Lagos studio hosted the likes of Paul McCartney & the Wings and—of course— Fela Kuti. Baker would go on to regularly perform and record with Fela throughout his time in Nigeria.

Baker's drumming appeared on several albums alongside the Nigerian king of afrobeat—including Why Black Man Dey Suffer (1971), Live! (1972) and Stratavarious (1972). "He understands the African beat more than any other Westerner," legendary afrobeat drummer Tony Allen said of Baker in a Rolling Stone interview.

"Though he was prone to outbursts and notoriously difficult to work with (detailed in the 2012 documentary Beware of Mr. Baker,) the rest of Baker's life was defined by a profoundly collaborative spirit," Okayplayer's report continues. "He'd play with jazz giants — including, but not limited to, Max Roach, Art Blakey, and Elvin Jones — and founded the prog-rock ensemble, Baker-Gurvitz Army, with brothers, Paul and Adrian Gurvitz, releasing three albums on Janus and ATCO."

Watch Ginger Baker and Fela Kuti performing together in the clip below.

AFRICA 70 - Let's Start Fela Kuti, Africa 70 & Ginger Baker youtu.be


Audio
Fatoumata Diawara on A Colors Show (Youtube)

The 10 Songs You Need to Hear This Week

Featuring K.O, Fatoumata Diawara, Burna Boy, Harmonize, Darkovibes x Runtown, Shatta Wale and more

Every week, we highlight the cream of the crop in music through our Best Music of the Week column.

Here's our round up of the best tracks and music videos that came across our desks, which you can also check out in our Songs You Need to Hear This Week playlists on Spotify and Apple Music.

Follow our SONGS YOU NEED TO HEAR THIS WEEK playlist on Spotify here and Apple Music here.

Check out all of OkayAfrica's new playlists on Spotify and Apple Music.

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News Brief
Photo: David Corio. Courtesy of Partisan Records.

Fela Kuti Has a New Reissue and a New Official Website

Partisan & Knitting Factory Records reveal "the first-ever official website and comprehensive historical resource for the life and music of Fela Kuti" alongside a reissue of Music Of Many Colours.

The king of afrobeat Fela Kuti has an extensive new website.

The new website, which was developed in close partnership with the Kuti family by Partisan and Knitting Factory Records, will look to provide the latest news about Fela re-issues from Fela, new projects and events, commissioned editorial articles, merch, and more.

Fela's longtime manager Rikki Stein mentions, "bringing together such a gifted team of creators to build this ultimate, all-singing, all-dancing tribute to my friend is a source of immense pride and satisfaction. As is always the case with any enterprise involving Fela, it goes above and beyond people simply exercising their professions and becomes a labor of love for all involved."

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Interview
Photo courtesy of CSA Global.

In Conversation with Congolese NBA Player Emmanuel Mudiay: 'I want more African players in the NBA.'

The Utah Jazz player talks about being African in the NBA, supporting basketball in the DRC and how 'everybody knows about Burna Boy'.

Inspired by his basketball-playing older brothers, by second grade, Emmanuel Mudiay already knew that he wanted to play in the American National Basketball Association. Then in 2001 his family, fleeing the war in Democratic Republic of Congo, sought asylum in the United States.

In America, Mudiay saw basketball as a way for him to improve his situation. After impressive high school and college careers, he moved to China to play pro ball. Picked 7th overall in the 2015 NBA draft, the now 23-year-old guard has made a name for himself this season coming off the bench for the Utah Jazz.

Mudiay attests to the sport having changed not only his life but that of his siblings. Basketball gave them all a chance at a good education and the opportunity to dream without conditions. Now he wants to see other talented African players make it too.

We caught up with him to talk about his experience as an African player in the NBA, his hopes for basketball on the African continent and who he and his teammates jam out to in their locker rooms.

This interview has been edited for length and clarity.

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University lecturer and activist Doctor Stella Nyanzi (L) reacts in court as she attends a trial to face charges for cyber-harassment and offensives communication, in Kampala, on April 10, 2017. (Photo by GAEL GRILHOT/AFP via Getty Images)

Jailed Ugandan Activist, Stella Nyanzi, Wins PEN Prize for Freedom of Expression

The outspoken activist, who is currently serving a prison sentence for a poem she wrote about the president's mother's vagina, won for her resistance "in front of a regime that is trying to suppress her."

Stella Nyanzi, the Ugandan academic, activist, and vocal critic of President Yoweri Museveni has been awarded the 2020 Oxfam Novib/PEN International award for freedom of expression, given to writers who "continue to work for freedom of expression in the face of persecution."

Nyanzi is currently serving a 15 month sentence for "cyber harassment" after she published a poem in which she wrote that she wished "the acidic pus flooding Esiteri's (the president's mother) vaginal canal had burn up your unborn fetus. Burn you up as badly as you have corroded all morality and professionalism out of our public institutions in Uganda."

According to the director of PEN International, Carles Torner, her unfiltered outspokenness around the issues facing her country is what earned her the award. "For her, writing is a permanent form of resistance in front of a regime that is trying to suppress her," said Torner at the award ceremony.

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