On August 2, 1997, Fela Anikulapo Kuti, also professionally known as Fela Kuti and simply Fela died. Even in death, Fela was as mysterious, many said he died of complications related to HIV/AIDS although there has been no definitive proof.
Twenty years later, on August 2, 2017, Fela stays true to his title of Abami Eda (a Yoruba appellation loosely translated mysterious or weird creature), his song lyrics, his politics and many brushes with the authorities as he stood against oppression continue to inspire many.
Some of his quotes are found in his songs and speeches, and till this day Nigerians continually infuse them in everyday speech.
1. As a play on the 'A fool at 40 quote', Fela once said:"They say a fool at 40's a fool forever. I won't say that to my brother. Change if you're a fool at 20/30. Don't wait until u're 40."
2. Most of his songs are filled with powerful imagery and metaphors. In 'Water no get enemy', he said:"Water e no get enemy. If you fight am unless you wan die. I dey talk of black power."
3. As a revolutionary who was never afraid to stand up for his beliefs, Fela was constantly frustrated by the willingness of Nigerians to accept oppression. He said:“My people are scared of the air around them, they always have an excuse not to fight for freedom."
4. He was also constantly interested in the human idea of religion and spirituality, he once said: “To be spiritual is not by praying and going to church. Spiritualism is the understanding of the universe so that it can be a better place to live in."
5. Everyday Nigeria is filled with people suffering at the expense of corrupt politicians and ineffectual leaders and Fela Kuti aptly captured it in his song: 'Shuffering and Smiling'.
Singing:"My people dey 'shuffering' and 'smiling', everyday na the same thing. Suffer, suffer for world, enjoy for heaven."
6. Fela had many run-ins with law enforcement due to his radical stance and views. On one occasion his home, Kalakuta Republic in Ikeja was attacked. He was severely beaten and almost all his property destroyed.
READ ALSO: Top 7 incredible facts about Fela Kuti
Many think this was a fallout of one of his most controversial songs 'Zombie' in which he launched a scathing attack on the Nigerian military and law enforcement methods.
"Zombie, oh, zombie, Zombie no go go unless you tell am to go, Zombie no go stop unless you tell am to stop. No brake, no jam, no sense. Joro jara joro," Fela sang.
7. He also criticised black women who bleached their skin in 'Yellow Fever' singing:"Yellow Fever, you dey bleach o, you dey bleach, ugly thing. Who say you fine? Na lie."
You can catch a glimpse into Fela's mind and his obsession with authenticity in this video interview:
His radical nature of course led to making enemies among some Nigerian leaders. In 2016, Fela’s son, Seun Kuti took to his facebook page to share details of how late Moshood Abiola got his father arrested.
NAIJ.com reported that in the post titled, Give me sh*t; I give u sh*t!!, Seun dished out history about the hidden truth on how Abiola, his wife; Ibrahim Babangida and Olusegun Obasanjo got Fela Kuti arrested.
Watch this NAIJ.com video as Nigerians speak on Fela Kuti: