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What Jamaica (ns) Reggae Music Can Teach Nigeria(ns) Afrobeat Music About Legacy, Ownership and Pride.

Fela Album cover open and close by Lemi Ghariokwu

It's Felabration Week in Lagos. This year, Fela Anikulapo Kuti would have been 75 years old. His legacy as an artist, activist, father, mentor, and partner to many still lives on. For a long time, I've been curious as to what Fela's aspirations would have been for the sustainability and expansion of Afrobeat music in Nigeria.

Today, the Nigerian music industry is booming with talents hailing from different parts of the nation with their respective messages in Rap, Hip-Hop, R&B, and afro-pop amongst others. Inasmuch as this transformation and evolution is evident in the aforementioned music genres, it is yet to translate into the creation of new and emerging artists/bands in Afrobeat music.

I will like to see Nigeria and Nigerians given the opportunity to take inclusive ownership of Afrobeat music, and do to Afrobeat music, what Jamaica and Jamaicans have done and continue to do to Reggae music-with pride and sass!.

Aside from the economic returns that can be generated as a result ( if copyrights laws are properly implemented), it is a much needed avenue for national identity and unity-especially considering Nigeria’s current fragmented state.

Furthermore, the ethnomusicology of Afrobeat music and its visual aesthetics will only be relevant, sustained, understood, appreciated and proliferated when its traditions are passed down to both current and future generations with love, pride, inclusion, and critically through mentorship and investment by already 'established' Afrobeat artists, and creative-art philanthropists.

Moreover, our lack of pride, ownership and investment (despite our numerous millionaires and billionaires) is part of what led to the happenings of the FELA Broadway show and other adaptations of our legends, heroes and heroines. Although the show was extremely successful and featured amazing talents from all over the world, it still failed to deliver authenticity in scenery, dance, language, hairstyles and costume, to name a few.

Then again, if folks who invested in the Broadway show never did, I’m not certain whether it would have been commissioned by any agency/individual in Nigerian for that matter.

As the African proverb illustrates, if you want to go FAST, go alone. If you want to go FAR, go together. This is more than you and me. This is about Legacy.

Happy Felabration everyone!


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