By Renn Offor
South Africa Tourism delegates on a road show to Nigeria were taken on a historic tour into the life and times of the Afrobeat legend, Fela Anikulapo Kuti. The tour was put together by the collaborative effort of NANTA and NATOP.
The event in Lagos is the second phase of the South African Tourism roadshow for 2016 in West Africa. The first phase held in Ghana Last week. In the next two weeks, the SAT would be holding the road show in Abuja and Port Harcourt.
On Monday, August 15, 2016 the trade show opens to meet travel and tourism stakeholders and the general public in Lagos. And for this year, the roadshow is adding unique colour to the event as the organizers have requested that people come in their traditional attires.
‘This is a new dimension we’ve added to demonstrate with our outfit that we are encouraging intra-African travels. We are asking Africans to travel more and trade more with Africa and our traditional outfits demonstrates our diversity, our wealth and cultures’, says Mohammed Kwalifa, West Africa Trade Relations Manager, South African Tourism during interaction at the road show on Sunday.
The tour which kicked off from the Federal Palace Hotel Victoria Island saw the group heading first to the original location where Fela’s Kalakuta republic once stood, now destroyed by the then military regime in Nigeria without leaving any sign of the legend’s former house and in its place stands the Biney Girls Senior Secondary School, Surulere.
Led by the Designer of the Fela’s Album Cover Sleeves, Mr. Lemi Ghariokwu, who recounted to us how he joined the Afrobeat legend at age 16 in 1974 and for over 40 years remained with the legend, remaining devoted to his value even after his death. Ghariokwu led us through the life of Fela in partnership with Mallam Abdul Okwechime a journalist, both close associates of the legend from the 70s.
The two recounted, in very graphic details the brutal travails of the afrobeat legend, the pains, sufferings, brutality and great loss Fela suffered at the hands of the Nigerian military dictators. From Surulere, the group moved to Fela’s Museum at Gbemisola Street Ikeja after a brief stopover for lunch which held at the Blue Lodge hotel inside the Murtala Mohammed Airport Complex in Ikeja.
At the museum, both Nigerians and the visitors were in hilarious reverence to the weird lifestyle the afro beat legend lived in this three story building with over 27 wives which he married in one day and a large household while he endured the persecution and constant raids from the Nigerian security personnel! The tour wound up at Femi’s New Afrika Shrine at Alausa, Ikeja.
As delegates ended the day’s revealing tour of Fela’s life, one issue that popped up was, does his influence actually encourage the upcoming generations to follow in his steps? But two answers seem to stand in his defense: Fela’s life teaches the values of vision, hard work, endurance and persistence, while the other is that Fela’s words spoken over 20 to 40years ago still resonates today to confront the ills in governments in Africa and all over the world, thus making him a prophet of sorts!