The Legacy of Fela Kuti: How His Music Continues to Inspire New Generations

Fela Anikulako Kuti was a legendary Nigerian singer, songwriter, show performer, and activist during his lifetime.  Aside from Olufela Olusegun Oludotun Ransome-Kuti, he is also known by several names like Abàmì Ẹ̀dá, Anikulako and other names.

According to several sources, he is the King of Afrobeat, the popular Nigerian music genre, which is the combination of West African music with African-American funk and jazz.

Biography And Education 

Fela Anikulako Kuti was born on October 15, 1938, in Abeokuta, the Ogun State capital.

He was born in the popular family of Ransome-Kuti; his mother’s name is Funmilayo Ransome-Kuti, who is the first woman to drive a car in Nigeria. Likewise, his father’s name is Israel Oludotun Ransome-Kuti.

According to the available information, Fela attended Abeokuta Grammar School. In 1958, he was sent to London by his parents to study medicine. Still, he decided to study music at the Trinity College of Music, with trumpet being his key musical instrument. Fela went on to set up a music band called Koola Lobito.

Music Career And Lifestyle 

In 1963, Fela returned to Nigeria, and he was able to re-form his Koola Lobitos music band, then trained as a radio producer for the Nigerian Broadcasting Corporation.

He called his style Afrobeat, which is a combination of Fuji music, funk, jazz, highlife, salsa, calypso, and traditional Yoruba music. Fela toured the United States and spent ten months in Los Angeles in 1969 together with his music band. 

Fela discovered the Black Power movement through Sandra Smith, who is a partisan of the Black Panther Party. This influenced his music, and he renamed the band Nigeria 70

He returned to Nigeria and renamed his music group name to (the) Africa ’70 because he changed his lyrical themes from love to social issues in Nigeria and Africa.   In 1970, Fela founded the Kalakuta Republic commune; he declared himself independent from military rule.  Unfortunately, the commune was destroyed in a 1978 raid that caused severe injury to Kuti and his mother, which led to the death of his mother. He was jailed by the government of Muhammadu Buhari in 1984 before he was released after 20 months.

Fela recorded and performed throughout the 1980s and 1990s till the time of his death in 1997. 

Fela established a nightclub in the Empire Hotel, which he initially called the Afro-Spot before he changed the Afrika Shrine; he usually performed regularly and officiated at personalized Yoruba traditional ceremonies in honor of his culture.

In the 1970s, Fela changed his name to Anikulapo, which means “He who carries death in his pouch,” with the interpretation: “I will be the master of my destiny and will decide when it is time for death to take me.”

Fela stopped using the hyphenated surname “Ransome” because he considered it a slave name.


According to the available information, Fela had several wives during his lifetime. 

On February 20, 1978, Fela married 27 women at a traditional Yoruba wedding ceremony in Lagos. According to him, he did it to demonstrate his belief in traditional African customs and values and their importance over Britain.

  • He got married to Kikelomo Oseyni in 1978, and they were together till 1986.
  • Likewise, he got married to Sewaa Kuti in 1978 till 1986. 

Fela was married to Fehintola Anikulapo Kuti from 1978 to 1986 and also married to Funmi Kuti from 1978 to 1986. Lastly, Fela Anikulapo Kuti got married to Bose Anikulapo Kuti in 1978, and they were together till 1986.


Fela Kuti, chanteur et musicien nigérian, en décembre 1983 au Nigéria. (Photo by Daniel LAINE/Gamma-Rapho via Getty Images)

According to the available information on the internet, Fela Anikulako Ransom-Kuti had seven children. Shalewa, Yeni, Femi, Sola, Seun, Motunrayo, and Kunle Kuti.

Although he had over 27 wives, these are his official children. He may have more children.

The Legacy of Fela Kuti: How His Music Continues to Inspire New Generations

Currently, Fela Anikulapo Kuti’s influence in the Nigerian music industry is massive, and it’s more than any other Nigerian musician because of the positive impact he has made during his lifetime, even though he passed away over 27 years ago. 

Fela is the first and the most powerful musician to use his songs to fight the people in the Nigerian government for their wrongs, especially when it comes to Nigeria’s poor state of living and poor economy. He also fights the Nigerian government for corruption and other evil acts with his songs.

The Nigerian government reacts to his song by punishing him. They sent soldiers to beat him, and he spent months in prison. His house was burnt down in Lagos by soldiers who were in government at the time.  Fela’s music is entertaining and informative and helps tell several stories that are unknown to average Nigerians. He used his music as a tool to fight the Nigerian government for the commoner in Nigeria during his lifetime.

Not just Fela Anikulapo Kuti alone but also children have been working every day since he passed away to keep his legacy alive. They have made a massive impact in the Nigerian music industry as well; from Femi to Seun, Made and other amazing musicians have kept Fela’s legacy alive not just in the Nigerian music industry but globally. 

A lot of Nigerian musicians in today’s world choose to make Fela their mentor because of his impact on the Nigerian music industry, especially when it comes to creating Afrobeat, which is the biggest music genre that thousands of Nigerian artists use at the moment. 

Davido, Wizkid, Burna Boy, Tiwa Savage, Don Jazzy, Olamide, Wande Coal, D’banj, and other top Nigerian musicians have massive regard for Fela because of his influence in the Nigerian entertainment industry.

Fellow is also one of the few Nigerian musicians who represent Nigeria massively in the international scene. 

Fela’s impact has helped several Nigerian musicians, especially when it comes to international tours because Fela started it. Likewise, his influence in the global scene adds massive value to the Nigerian music industry. 

Fela toured several countries, including the United States, the United Kingdom, and other countries worldwide. On August 2, 1997, Fela passed away, and he was buried on August 12, 1997, in the grounds of Kalakuta.

Over one million people attended his burial in Lagos, Nigeria, more than any other public figure at the time and now.


Do you find Trendyhiphop useful? Click here to give us five stars rating!


Join the Discussion

No one has commented yet. Be the first!

Leave a Reply