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Fela

Fela (Fela Anikulapo Kuti), 1938–97, Nigerian musician and political activist, b. Olufela Olusegun Oludotun Ransome-Kuti, studied Trinity College of Music, London. He was the originator of Afrobeat, an amalgam of West African traditional and pop music with American pop, funk, jazz, and blues strains. A saxophone and keyboard player and a charismatic singer, Fela formed his first band in 1961, and in 1969 toured the United States, where he met and was strongly influenced by members of the Black Power movement. On his return to Nigeria, he became more socially concerned, and protested the cruelties of Nigeria's military dictatorship in his music. The government reacted by banning his music, burning his compound and injuring him (1977), and jailing him several times. In 1979 he formed a political party but was not permitted to run for president. He died from complications of AIDS. The musical Fela! (2008) is based on his life and music, Fela's son Femi Anikulapo Kuti, 1962–, also is an Afrobeat musician.

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

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