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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!

Interview

A Candid Conversation With Olamide & Fireboy DML

We talk to the Nigerian stars about the hardest lessons they've learned, best advice they've ever been given and what Nigeria means to them.

Olamide and Fireboy DML have been working together for three years, but the first time they sit down to do an interview together is hours after they arrive in New York City on a promo tour.

It's Fireboy's first time in the Big Apple — and in the US — and the rain that's pouring outside his hotel doesn't hinder his gratitude. "It's such a relief to be here, it's long overdue," he tells OkayAfrica. "I was supposed to be here last year, but Covid stopped that. This is a time to reflect and refresh. It's a reset button for me."

Olamide looks on, smiling assuredly. Since signing Fireboy to his YBNL Nation label in 2018, he's watched the soulful young singer rise to become one of Nigeria's most talked-about artists — from his breakout single, "Jealous," to his debut album Laughter, Tears & Goosebumps, hit collabs with D.Smoke and Cuppy, and his sophomore release, Apollo, last year.

Even while he shares his own latest record, UY Scuti, with the world, Olamide nurtures Fireboy's career with as much care and attention as he does his own, oscillating between his two roles of artist and label exec seamlessly. His 2020 album Carpe Diem is the most streamed album ever by an African rap artist, according to Audiomack, hitting over 140 million streams. When Olamide signed a joint venture with US-based record label and distribution company, Empire, in February last year he did so through his label, bringing Fireboy and any other artist he decides to sign along for the ride, and establishing one of the most noteworthy deals on the continent.

Below, Olamide & Fireboy DML speak to OkayAfrica about their mutual admiration for each other, what makes them get up in the morning and how they switch off.

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