Ahead of Fela Kuti’s birthday, author Nels Abbey and Nigerians around the world capture Nigeria with songs and stories – Spotify
Prepare for Fela-brate! Throughout October, Spotify Africa participates in Nigeria’s Celebration Month, which encompasses the birthday of acclaimed Nigerian artist and human rights activist. Fela kuti and Nigeria’s 61st Independence Day. The month-long festivities are a reminder of the artist’s leadership and activism in Nigeria and provide a time to reflect, rejoice and remember. In the spirit of Felabration, Spotify has partnered with creators across the country to explore Kuti’s influence and unveil the many facets of being Nigerian.
First of all, it’s important to understand Kuti’s impact on the local and global music scene. In the late 1960s, he launched a new musical mix of highlife, funk, jazz, salsa, calypso, and traditional Yoruba music in what’s known as Afrobeat, a vibrant genre that continues to thrive today. To honor his heritage, in 1998, his daughter Yeni Anikulapo-Kuti started an annual music festival called Felabration in memory and celebration of his father.
To move the celebration forward, we’ve teamed up with HarperCollins Publishers on a playlist revival by acclaimed authors of From this Our Country, a landmark collection of personal essays by a mix of 24 award-winning and emerging Nigerian writers, to be released September 30. In their essays, the authors Abbey of Nels, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, Chigozie Obioma, and others share their memories and experiences of Nigeria.
Spotify worked with the authors to take over Black into the future, a playlist curated by Spotify exploring Afro-Futurism and the role black creators around the world play in the music that lasts until the end of October. As Nigeria celebrates its Independence Day, the authors of the anthology From this Our Country explore Nigeria’s past, present and future through her music. Featuring artists from political giants like Fela Kuti to social pillars like Davido, Black to the Future is a mirror of the future through the past.
To build the song list, each author selected a song to include that speaks to their idea of Nigeria. Writer Oyin Akande chose the modern tube “Gbona»By the singer-songwriter Burna boy, sharing: “Burna Boy always makes me dance, but this song speaks directly to the culture of gbedu.” The gbedu is a large traditional Yoruba drum often used in Fela songs, and the word has since evolved to describe Afrobeat music.
But many authors have stuck to the classics. Poet Inua Ellams explained that his choice, “Ja Funmi”By beloved singer, songwriter and multi-instrumentalist de jùjú King Sunny Ade, evokes precious memories. “It brings me back to the parties and gatherings of my youth; my sisters and I run between the adults as they roamed slowly, drunk and carefree, ”said Inua.
It’s not easy to pin down or define Nigeria in an essay or song, but together the words and rhythms paint a rich picture. For an overview of the massive collection and the cover playlist, For registration spoke with the Anglo-Nigerian satirist and author of Think like a white man, Abbey of Nels, about his essay in the upcoming collection, the role of music in his writing, and the unique strength that Fela Kuti was.
From this Our CountryThe summary of “Defining Nigeria Is Telling a Half-Truth.” Many have tried, but most have concluded that it is impossible to grasp the true scope and importance of Africa’s most populous nation through words or pictures. Why did you want to take up the challenge?
Nigeria is difficult to capture because we all have unique relationships with her. I was eager to give an overview of my relationship with Nigeria, what it means to me and how it has shaped my life, for better and for worse.
I want readers to get a prominent observation of the hopes and disappointed dreams and fears and tears fulfilled as well as the dramatic comedy that was Nigeria, from my perspective, in the last year of the Babangida era and the entire Abacha era.
How would you describe your relationship with Nigeria? How has it evolved over the years?
I would describe my relationship with Nigeria as: 40% unconditional love, 25% “I miss home; I can not wait to return to ! “, And 20%” Why am I doing this to myself again? Home is London, not Nigeria! Can’t wait to go! ” The last 15% are where there is room for evolution. . . and maybe even the occasional revolution.
Like all deep relationships, my beautifully complicated relationship with Nigeria evolves and turns.
Did you listen to music while writing? Do specific songs help you work or fuel your creative process?
I’m a writer of metaphors and comparisons, so I listen to music every now and then to put myself in the mood to write or inspire thinking. N’abania flavor, old school Ice Cube, Nas, Talib Kweli, Ms. Lauryn Hill, Pat Project, JAY Z, DaVido, Burna boy, and of course, Fela kuti are some of my go-to people to help me write.
What is your relationship with Fela Kuti? Has his music influenced your point of view or your relationship with Nigeria?
Fela Kuti was the musician of a thoughtful person. He was so deep and always ahead of his time. Much of what he said on record remains true to this day. But beyond a source of information and absolutely fantastic music, he was a source of pride and inspiration. Fela’s music engenders courage and determination.
Why did you choose the song “Sleep disorder Yanga Wake Am»By Fela Kuti for the Black into the future playlist? What does the song mean to you?
It’s a perfectly Nigerian song. He talks about the reality of Nigerian life. Everything can go perfectly well and then. . . BOOM! Everything collapses. And when it does, things somehow get worse. But through it all we always find a way to laugh and smile. Our humanity always shines through.
How would you describe the music and influence of Nigerian artists on the global music scene?
Nigerian music is the rejected stone that has become the cornerstone of popular music. The influence is so vast that to take away Nigerian music you have an entirely different landscape. Fela kuti, Sade Adu, Labi Siffre, Akinyele, Commander-in-Chief Ebenezer Obey, Majek Fashek, Don Jazzy, Ayinla Kollington, King Sunny Ade, WizKid, Tiwa Sauvage, Iyanya, Obese (kids at my school in Abeokuta paid me 50 kobo per pop for what they clearly saw as sheer hilarity of hearing me sing Obesere songs in my English accent) – the list goes on and on. Nigerian music is beating the world for a good reason: it is essential.
Start the Felabration early and listen to the official From this Our Country resume from the playlist Black into the future now until the end of October. Stay tuned for the collection’s September 30th release and more festive news to come.