Popular

This New Musical Explores the Life of 'Fela Kuti and the Kalakuta Queens'

"Nobody ever talks about the 27 wives."

A new musical by Nigerian arts mogul, Bolanle Austen-Peters dives into the life of Fela Kuti and his relationship with the Kalakuta Queens—the 27 women he married in a single ceremony in 1978.

In a new video from the BBC, Austen-Peters give us a look into the production process, and tells us more about why she wanted to focus on the story of the Kalakuta Queens, who also acted as dancers for the musician, in particular.

"It just occurred to me that nobody ever talked about the 27 wives that he had. And I wondered who they were? I wanted to understand what informed their decision to marry one man, and what drove them. You know, what was their passion?" Watch the full video below.

Fela Kuti and the Kalakuta Queens is currently showing at the renovated Terra Culture Arena in Lagos, which Austen-Peters founded back in 2003.

We spoke to Austen-Peters back in August about her mission to promote Nigeria's arts and culture scene and about producing the West End's first Nigerian musical, Wakaa!. Revisit our interview with her here.

Fela and the Kalakuta Queens deserve all the shine!

Music

6 Samples From 'Éthiopiques' in Hip-Hop

A brief history of Ethio-jazz cultural exchange featuring songs by Nas & Damian Marley, K'naan, Madlib and more.

This article was originally published on OkayAfrica in March, 2017. We're republishing it here for our Crossroads series.

It's 2000 something. I'm holed up in my bedroom searching for samples to chop up on Fruity Loops. While deep into the free-market jungle of Amazon's suggested music section, I stumble across a compilation of Ethiopian music with faded pictures of nine guys jamming in white suit jackets. I press play on the 30 second sample.

My mind races with the opportunities these breakbeats offered a budding beat maker. Catchy organs, swinging horns, funky guitar riffs, soulful melodies and grainy and pained vocalists swoon over love lost and gained. Sung in my mother tongue—Amharic—this was a far cry from the corny synthesizer music of the 1990s that my parents played on Saturday mornings. I could actually sample this shit.

The next day, I burn a CD and pop it into my dad's car. His eyes light up when the first notes ooze out of the speakers. “Where did you get this?" He asks puzzlingly. “The internet," I respond smiling.

In the 1970s my dad was one of thousands of high school students in Addis Ababa protesting the monarchy. The protests eventually created instability which lead to a coup d'état. The monarchy was overthrown and a Marxist styled military junta composed of low ranking officers called the Derg came to power. The new regime subsequently banned music they deemed to be counter revolutionary. When the Derg came into power, Amha Eshete, a pioneering record producer and founder of Ahma Records, fled to the US and the master recordings of his label's tracks somehow ended up in a warehouse in Greece.

Keep reading... Show less

get okayafrica in your inbox

popular.

How Nigerian Streetwear Brand, Daltimore, is Rising To Celebrity Status

We spoke with founder and creative director David Omigie about expression through clothing and that #BBNaija pic.