‘Fela’s Republic and the Kalakuta Queens’ returns on stage
Nov. 30, 2019
Fela Anikulapo Kuti is a giant amongst men and an African icon whose activism and musical legacy as the pioneer of Afrobeats have been retold on almost every medium you can think of. Kuti’s activism-filled life is thick with compelling narratives that span from his music to his activism or both. What is rarely explored is the relative interest garnered from that day in 1978 when he married 27 women, all at once.
The story goes that Fela had sent a note out to his back-up singers and dancers, asking if any of them would be willing to marry him — 27 women replied in excitement. Nigeria’s theatre impresario, Bolanle Austen-Peters, brought the story of Fela and his wives to the stage in a musical called ‘Fela and the Kalakuta Queens’.
Following the success of ‘Fela and the Kalakuta Queens’ in Lagos, Abuja, Cairo and Pretoria, Bolanle Austen-Peters Productions has announced the return of a sequel ‘Fela’s Republic and the Kalakuta Queens’ to Terra Kulture this December.
While ‘Fela and the Kalakuta Queens’ was majorly an exploration of the life of Fela Kuti and his wives, Fela’s Republic and the Kalakuta Queens has infused the celebration of the unapologetic and prophetic messages enshrined in his music into the original storyline.
Having raised the bar with the local and international success of ‘Saro the Musical’, ‘Wakaa the musical’, ‘Queen Moremi the Musical’, and others, Bolanle Austen-Peters Productions is set to thrill audiences with this new musical at the Terra Arena, Victoria Island Lagos from the 14th of December, 2019 to January 2020.
According to Austen-Peters, “the play which first opened in Lagos in 2017 has now been shown in different countries across the continent. However, we’ve brought it back to Lagos because there has been a lot of clamor for that to be done. The sequel is just as exciting and the major twist to it is that the new play is a fusion of the Kalakuta Queens and Fela’s social messages.”
The musician used his art to fight against discrimination and corruption; his message is more important today than ever as an example of the power artists have when using their art as a vehicle for change. His life also serves as a vehicle for wisdom relating to current struggles and the story of Fela’s Kalakuta Queens adds a dimension of gender awareness to the storytelling inspired by his life.
To star as Fela in the musical will be the saxophonist and leader of Adeniji Heavywing band, Mr. ‘Laitan Adeniji, a lifelong fan of Fela, whose jazz has a heavy dose of the maestro’s influence. Although acting for the first time, Adeniji seems cut out for the role with his physical presence and bearing.
“I never knew I could act until I met Bolanle, the story of Fela goes on and on. Playing the role of Fela has really helped me to become a better person and improve my musical career.
“It not easy playing the role of Fela because he was a man of different parts, different emotions, he loves women, he loves his Igbo, he was multi-instrumentalist. So, you can imagine how difficult it will be to play the role. I had to sit with some of his wives and his family, they told me a lot about baba, I also sat with Duro who is my friend, he gave me a lot of tips him.
“It was also easy because since I was 6 or 7 I have been listening to Fela’s music right from my teenage age. So, my schoolmate when they hear now I am playing the role of Fela they just smile and said no wonder, so they have been preparing you for this role. Even my room they called it shrine because it was everything about Fela for me. So, this similarity really helped me,” he said.
Fela’s Republic and the Kalakuta Queens is proudly supported by Ecobank, Amstel Malta, MTN, Dormanlong, the Estate of Fela Anikulapo Kuti, Africa Magic, Red Media Africa, Beat FM amongst others.
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