Today, we have come together to remember and to honour legend who challenged us all as individuals and as a people to free our minds from all inhibitions and actualise our true potentials. Fela Anikulapo Kuti, twenty years after his death, is still alive as a movement of social consciousness and justice against oppression in our society.
Fela made the world sit up and take notice of the energy of African art and music. Fela was an enigmatic artiste, who used the platform of his art to agitate for social and human rights by challenging the government and people to explore development through social and economic activities that are rooted in African values. Fela will forever be accorded his position in the Global “Hall of Fame” of artistes.
The phenomenon that the world knows as “Fela” was deeply rooted in the evolution of Lagos State. The story of music, art, entertainment and tourism in Lagos and Nigeria cannot be told without an eloquent mention of the “Abami eda”.
On this day, October 15th, which would have been Fela’s 79th birthday, the government and people of Lagos State celebrate ‘’Fela’’ with the unveiling of this Liberation Statue. It has been 20 years since he passed on but the memories he left us with remain evergreen. Today we celebrate a man who voluntarily turned his back on a life of comfort and privilege, and took up his saxophone as a weapon to fight for the liberation of our people from neo-colonialism and bad governance.
This “Liberation” statue is not an image of Fela but a symbol of Fela’s philosophy. This artwork was created as a form of respect and remembrance to this legend; what he stood for and fought for with his music; his mythology; struggle for freedom; fight for human dignity; social consciousness; courage and Pan-Africanism.
We want to use this opportunity to reiterate the continued commitment of the Lagos State Government to fully harness the potentials of entertainment, creative arts and tourism to transform the economy of Lagos State and generate wealth and job opportunities for our people.
Our government identifies with the spirit of limitless opportunities offered by the creative sector and will support entertainment entrepreneurs to achieve their dreams. We want to create a vibrant arts and culture sector that would empower our young and talented population to find their own voices and impact society positively.
Ladies and gentlemen, Fela would have been 80 years next year and for his contribution to music, art and entertainment in Lagos, Nigeria and Africa, should be immortalised. Fela deserves to be celebrated with many more monuments and different artistic expressions.
Today, he is still alive in his music and in the music of Femi, Seun and other artistes who have followed his style of music. This monument we have unveiled today should be the first of many to celebrate the icon who gave us afro beat.
I thank members of Fela Anikulapo Kuti’s family for their support which contributed immensely to making this event a reality. I also commend you for immortalising this great Nigerian and African with the annual Felabration event. The spirit of “Fela” lives on in our hearts.
Thank you all.
Itesiwaju Ipinle Eko, lo je wa logun!
Governor of Lagos State,
15th October, 2017.