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The Life of Fela Kuti: Africa’s Greatest Musician Of All Time

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Fela Kuti

By Ian Ortega

The life of Nigerian Musician Fela Kuti pours out ounces of inspiration and a few bites of criticism. Yet, in seeing the ideals he stood for, one would be bribed to actually agree that he was the greatest, justest, most inspiring, most revolutionary African musician of all time.

He achieved a cult like status. Some musicians have been respected for their music. For Fela Kuti it went beyond his music. His music was extremely great. But the message in that music and the will to implement what he sang about is something that amazes me.

He illustrated that music could build the foundations for Africa’s liberation. From inventing a new musical genre and living life on his own terms, to compare Fela Kuti to other counterculture artistes such as Bob Dylan would in a way be an underestimation.

In 1958, his family sent him to England to study medicine. He snubbed their wishes and instead enrolled at the Trinity College of Music. His return to Nigeria was a game changer in the 1960s considering that many of the movements were already winding through Europe and America.

It is believed that Fela Kuti carried back a portion of counterculture revolutionary ideals to Nigeria. He is considered the father of Afro-beat, having blended African rhythms with jazz and funk.

Everyone has a utopia they wish to see realized. Fela Kuti to some extent didn’t wish for his, he created one. My friend Remi Adekoya writes about Fela Kuti in the Guardian;

“Audaciously, he declared his sizable compound in Lagos an independent country, “Kalakuta Republic”, complete with its own constitution and a free health clinic. Kalakuta offered sanctuary to the homeless while students trooped in to take part in debates on Africa’s future. Marijuana, a key part of Fela’s diet, flowed freely. Kalakuta was a libertarian’s dream and a dictator’s nightmare.”

Perhaps Bobi Wine could have borrowed the idea of a “uganja republic” from Fela Kuti whether knowingly or unknowingly.

The government soldiers were later to invade his micro-republic, razing down everything, raping women at will and pushing his 77-year-old mother through a window resulting in injuries that saw her die days later.

Did these events break his spirit? On the contrary, they fueled more of his ‘contrarian’ views. He married 27 women in a single ceremony as a way of hitting back at the authorities. He went on to establish his political party, lambasting authorities. In 1979 he ran for Presidency only to have his candidacy torpedoed by the military.

Of all virtues that he espoused, courage was number one. “My people are scared of the air around them, they always have an excuse not to fight for freedom,” he sang.

His own life was part of the message he preached. He detested mental colonialism that he argued had taken over the African bourgeoisie. You could call him a musical Kizza Besigye. He insisted; “a police uniform is just a piece of clothing sewn by the same tailors who sew your clothes.”

In death, Fela Kuti’s ideas still live on. His music has continued to sell more in spirit than in body. Could a Ugandan music industry produce a musician that is just a fraction of Fela Kuti? Does the industry have the ability to produce that kind of a man?

Perhaps Bobi Wine stood a chance to become that. Yet, he was divided on whether to embrace capitalism or to stand for the things he sang about. Today, he’s chosen to embrace the lighter, brighter, comfortable side.

We could also mention Babaluku, a man who began the Bavubuka Community house in Makindye that taught the youth the true meaning of Hip-Hop.

All in all, Fela Kuti’s utopian ideals may be another long walk to Freedom, but he demonstrated that something could be done to achieve the values he stood for.

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Celebrity Gossip

The MultiChoice Talent Factory announces the

MTF Academy Class of 2019

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By Staff Writer

MultiChoice Africa is thrilled to announce that the final students for the MultiChoice Talent Factory (MTF) Academy Class of 2019 have been chosen. After a two-month long rigorous selection process across 13 African countries, 60 aspiring filmmakers representing East Africa, Southern Africa and West Africa will begin their 12-month training programme at the MTF Academies in Nairobi, Lusaka & Lagos in October this year.

The final candidates were selected after a rigorous interview and adjudication process by film and television experts, as well as regional Academy Directors Njoki Muhoho (East Africa), Berry Lwando (Southern Africa) and Femi Odugbemi (West Africa). Launched in May 2018 as part of MultiChoice Africa’s ground-breaking corporate shared value (CSV) initiative, the MTF Academy is a 12-month fully-funded training programme aimed at upskilling the next generation of passionate young film creatives. As the first touchpoint of the shared-value initiative, the academy’s curriculum was tailored alongside MultiChoice Africa partner institutions Pan-Atlantic University in Lekki, Kenyatta University in Nairobi, and the University of Zambia in Lusaka, which will respectively confer the course qualification upon completion of the academy programme.

In addition, The Henley Business School offers an orientation intervention to the students at the beginning and end of the 12-month programme. The appetite for training opportunities across Africa is massive within the creative film and TV industry, according to MultiChoice Talent Factory Director Cheryl Uys-Allie, which is exactly why the MTF Academy programme was launched.“As one of the few industry players that not only tell African stories but also invest in them, the need for a dynamic training programme such as the MTF Academy has been a long time coming. As MultiChoice Africa, we always ask ourselves: what’s next in the industry, and how can we better prepare for it? The MTF Academy was the answer to that question: By giving young Africans the chance to hone their television and film production skills,” says Uys-Allie.The Class of 2019 is hot on the heels of the inaugural Class of 2018, who are ready to graduate and have their first films screened on M-Net channels and Showmax.

This year’s class will reap the additional rewards of -new partnerships between the MTF Academy and Jasco Broadcast Solutions as well as Nihilent with its connection to Bollywood, as well as existing partnerships with the New York Film Academy College of Visual & Performing Arts (NYFA), DOLBY Institute and Universal Music Nigeria (UMG). As part of their curriculum, the 2019 candidates will also be exposed to the MTF Masterclasses, aimed at upskilling industry professionals and emerging creatives alike by offering exclusive access to practical, expert-led industry skills workshops across the 13 participating countries. Here’s to another year of investing directly in Africa’s dynamic storytelling spirit through the MTF Academy!

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Celebrity Gossip

Prophet Elvis Mbonye jets in gospel artiste Ron Kenoly ahead of showcase this Sunday

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By Staff Writer

In the wee hours of Thursday 29th, American gospel singer Ron Kenoly jetted into the country to an over whelming welcome at Entebbe Airport. Ron Kenoly will on 1st September, this Sunday be at Zoe fellowship grounds in Lugogo opposite the KCCA Football grounds. Ron Kenoly is famous for his worship songs like Ancient of days, Lift him up, I see the Lord, Sing out among many more.

Ron Kenoly was born on December 6 in 1944 and is an American Christian worship leader, singer, and songwriter whose expressed mission is “to create an environment for the manifest presence of God”. His musical style is one of jubilant praise and individual excellence on musical instruments. Although Kenoly himself only plays on one of his recordings, he leads comfortably with his voice and is always backed up by musicians and a large choir.

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Breeze Serenity Saloon and Spa, a perfect one stop serene place for all your body care

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By Staff Writer

Not so many places around town will have you get all your body services at a one stop. Serenity Saloon and Spa is one of those places that will not need you place to place, the Kimathi based Saloon and Spa has services ranging from makeup, weaving, braids, dreadlocks, massage, pedicure & manicure, facial, body scrub, hair treatment, tattoos and physiotherapy services.

From those that have been at the place, the customer care is excellent and in a conducive and mind relaxing environment that has FREE WIFI. Because we have been there to experience the ambiance, the place is convenient for all classes of people including the working class because it opens through all 24 hours.

While is remains a classy saloon and Spa the charges are relatively friendly. Breeze Serenity Saloon and Spa is located at Kimathi Avenue, Pan African House, next to Kampala Casino.

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