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Did You Know…? Fela Kuti Once Tried to Run For President

I bet you didn’t know that legendary Afrobeat maestro, Fela Anikulapo Kuti, once declared his intention to run for the office of president of the federal republic of Nigeria.

Movement of the People Party

After returning from the 1978 Berlin Jazz festival, Fela was deserted by his band who had heard rumours that he wanted to fund his presidential ambition from the proceeds of their just-concluded tour. Amidst the rumours, Fela proceeded to register his own political party,  Movement of the People Party (MPP) and officially declared his intention to run for president in 1979. However, his candidature was refused by authorities.

A few other things you might not know about Fela

  • Fela was christened Fela Ransome-Kuti but dropped the name “Ransome”, saying it was a “slave name”. He replaced it with Anikulapo, meaning He who carries death in his pouch
  • Fela married 27 women in one day. The wedding was a traditional Yoruba wedding, and most of the women were dancers in his band. However, he would have most of his wives deserted him while he was in prison, and he let go of his remaining wives after his release.
  • Fela was born to an Anglican reverend minister. His father was Reverend Israel Oludotun Ransome-Kuti, an Anglican minister and school principal. The Reverend was also the first president of the Nigeria Union of Teachers
  • Fela was supposed to be a medical doctor. Fela’s parents sent him to London to study medicine in 1958, but he returned with a music career instead, having set up his band, Koola Lobitos,  just two years after arriving London. Fela’s brothers, Olikoye and Beko, were medical doctors.
  • Fela is related to Wole Soyinka. Fela is a first cousin to the writer and Nobel laureate, Professor Wole Soyinka, the first African to win the Nobel Prize for Literature
  • Fela declared his commune, the Kalakuta Republic, as independent of the Nigerian state.
  • Fela i has “died” more than once. He was first rumoured dead on July 14, 1987. His actual death occurred on August 2, 1997, resulting from AIDS-related complications for which he refused medical attention. His death was announced by his brother, Olikoye.
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Akwaowo Willie

Akwaowo Willie is a social media consultant for several businesses including SMEs and Startups. He is also an entrepreneur and writer with interests in entertainment, media, fashion, among others. He is married, with 2 adorable children.

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