ByMontage Africa Media

Felabration is an event held annually on the week of Fela’s birthday to celebrate him. This week long music festival which was conceived in 2008 by Fela’s eldest child Yeni Anikulapo Kuti is held at the New Afrika Shrine, Lagos and attracts visitors from different countries thus making it an official tourist attraction for the state. The event features musical performances from both upcoming and A list musicians in the country and appearances from international acts. The event is not all about music as it also consists of comedy performances, symposia on social and topical issues, debates, street parades and photo exhibitions.

This year, the seventh edition of Felabration themed “Just like that” officially kicked off on Tuesday the sixth October with a debate competition for both public and private secondary schools in Lagos state with the topic “Poverty Is Not An Accident” a quote made popular by the late Nelson Mandela. The debate was held at Freedom Park, Lagos Island and after various fierce bouts of competing, Lagos State Senior Model College, Ikosi Agbowa won the competition with Kings College coming second and Dowen College coming third.

The annual Fela symposium followed the School debate on Monday the twelveth at the NECA building, Central Business District, Alausa with the topic “Human Rights is my Property”. It was moderated by Babatunde Raji Fashola the immediate past governor of Lagos state and had other speakers like Sandra Izsadore (the lady credited for influencing Fela’s style of music from American styled Jazz to what is now popularly known as Afrobeat). Renowned human rights activist Mrs. Ayo Obe, Mr. Kunle Ajibade (journalist) and Prof. Chidi Odinkalu of Nigeria Human Rights Commission were all speakers at the symposium.

The photo exhibitions which are a regular feature of the festival was another high point of the event. This year, the exhibition celebrated Fela’s women’ (Fela’s Wimmin) who were instrumental in his music and movement in one way or the other. Women like his mother the famous Funmilayo Ransume-Kuti (political activist and the first woman in Nigeria to drive a car), his 27 wives and Sandra Izsadore mentioned in the paragraph above. This year’s exhibition was divided into three categories, historical pictures, the recreation (photographers recreating their own images of Fela’s Queens) and documentation which captured Fela’s dancers from past to present. The exhibition took place in different art galleries in Lagos – Kalakuta Museum in Ikeja, Centre for Contemporary Arts (CCA) in Yaba, Freedom Park Lagos Island, Mydrim Art Gallery Ikoyi and Terra Kulture Victoria Island as participants moved from one venue to another showcasing their works based on their categories. A few of the photographers that participated in this year’s exhibition include Leni Sinclair popular for capturing the iconic image of Fela’s fist in the air during the 70’s, Anton Corbjin, Dexter T. Jones, Emmanuel Ogabi, Yetunde Babaeko, Obi Somto and Femi Akintobi who did a documentation of Fela as a photo journalist around the time of the attack on the Kalakuta shrine.

This year’s Felabration was also celebrated in London at the British Library on Friday the 16th with musicians like 2face idibia teaming up with Tony Allen and Laura Mvula to headline the event. Back home in Nigeria, The Afrika Shrine was packed full with people all through the week-long event with different acts taking stage. It was a pleasant surprise to see Majek Fashek perform classics like Send down the Rain, Majek Fashek in New York and a few other of his hits. The International Reggae band Third World from Jamaica and Newen Afrobeat Band from Chile were also on stage to thrill the audience and pay respect to the King of Afrobeat.

By every standard the this years event was a success and we can only look forward to next years events, hopefully the organisers might think of taking it to other part of the country. “Ara rara rara!!!”