…Monument, Good Representation Of What Our Patriarch Stands For, Says Family
Lagos State Governor, Mr. Akinwunmi Ambode, on Sunday eulogized the virtues of late Afrobeat legend and freedom fighter, Fela Anikulapo-Kuti describing him as an enigmatic artiste who used the platform of his art to agitate for social and human rights by challenging government and people to explore development through social and economic activities that are rooted in African values.
Speaking while unveiling the Liberation Statue in honour of Fela erected at Allen Roundabout in Ikeja as part of activities marking his 79th posthumous birthday and the 20th anniversary of his demise, Governor Ambode said aside from challenging people to free their minds of all inhibitions and actualise their true potentials, the late music icon also 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 the people from neo-colonialism and bad governance.
While insisting that the spirit of Fela was still alive as a movement of social consciousness and justice against oppression, the Governor said the late legend made the world sit up and take notice of the energy of African art and music, adding that he will forever be accorded his position in the global hall of fame of artistes.
He said: “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,” the Governor said.
While reiterating the continued commitment of the State Government to fully harness the potentials of entertainment, creative arts and tourism to transform the economy of the State and generate wealth and job opportunities for the people, Governor Ambode said his vision is to create a vibrant arts and culture sector that would empower young and talented population to find their own voices and impact society positively.
He said though Fela was no more, but it was gratifying that he is still alive in his music and in the music of Femi, Seun and other artistes who have followed his style of music, assuring that the unveiled statue would be the first of many to celebrate the Afrobeat icon.
Responding on behalf of the family, Fela’s daughter and social commentator, Yeni Kuti commended Governor Ambode and the artist for coming up with such a monument to recognize and honour their father in a big way, saying that it was a good representation of their late patriarch.
She specifically justified the design of the monument, saying it was the expression of how the artist felt about the late legend.
She said: “Before people on social media will start to say the Fela has no head or it has no hand and so on, it is art and before you abuse us, let me answer quickly. It is art. How an artist feels is how he feels because if he had put a head and the head did not look like Fela, everybody will say the head did not look like Fela so now you cannot abuse the head because it is not even there.
“The artist has said it is a spirit and when Fela was alive, he hated statues and so I think this effigy is a good representation of what Fela would have wanted because he did not like statues and that is why at the Museum you will notice that there is no statue of Fela. Everybody wants to do his statue and I have fought against it. So, this one I can accept it and so I want to thank the artist who designed it and also thank Governor Ambode for recognizing Fela in a big way.”
The visual artist who designed the effigy, Abolore Sobayo said the work was an expression of how he feels about the late Afrobeat legend, saying that it was designed to generate discussion about the emancipation of the people.
While justifying the fact that the art work had no head, Sobayo said the design came out of extensive research on what Fela represented through his music, and how to use same to correct some of the things he complained about years ago that are still happening.
“For me as an artist, art transcends beyond beauty or aesthetics. For me, art should generate discuss; art should ask question and art should provoke our thoughts. For me, the creation of the Liberation Statue is to represent the essence of Fela by using his costume.
“For me, I believe that this should serve as a conscious to our subconscious that twenty years after Fela’s demise, most of the things he talked about are still happening. For me, this work should come to us not just as a beautiful work, but it should come to us as something that will ginger us to look at the positivity in our lives; positivity in the values of his music; for us to start to emancipate our people positively. Going forward, I have been able to use symbolism as a medium to represent Fela through his costume and to represent his essence,” Sobayo said.
The event was attended by notable members of late Fela’s family including Yemi Ransome-Kuti (Head of family), Seun Kuti, Kunle Kuti, Yeni Kuti, Motunrayo Kuti, Dotun Olukoye Ransome-Kuti, Senior Advocate of Nigeria, Femi Falana; veteran Nollywood actor, Pa Olu Jacobs and his wife, Joke Silva; Fela’s first manager, Chief Benson Idonije, among others.
Governor Ambode was also at the Kalakuta Museum on Gbemisola Street, Ikeja where he was received by Afrobeat star and Fela’s son, Femi Kuti, among other family and devotees of the late music icon.
He later hosted a Special Lagos Jump to formally round off Felabration 2017 at the New Afrika Shrine, thereby becoming the first Governor in his official capacity to visit the shrine to end the show.
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.
In a few days’ time, it will be 57 years since our nation attained independence. The story of the struggle that led to that momentous occasion on October 1st 1960 will not be complete without mentioning late Pa OBAFEMI AWOLOWO. He was a leading voice among eminent nationalists of his time who successfully negotiated our nation’s liberation from the colonial masters.
His commitment to the growth and development of our nation was further demonstrated during the post-independence era. Chief Obafemi Awolowo, the first Premier of the Western region, was a shining light among his contemporaries and displayed an incredible ability to use leadership as a tool for the advancement of the welfare of the people.
Thirty years after his death, his thoughts and ideas on a wide range of issues relating to the economy, fiscal federalism and education among several others, are still as relevant today as they were back in time. His legacies and landmark achievements, particularly in the Western region including Lagos colony, have endured and remain a source of inspiration and benchmark for progressive leadership in the country.
Awolowo was a symbol for the aspiration of Western Nigeria during his lifetime. His achievements remain indelible across the nation. The vision of new generation leaders like us, is to consciously rise up to his ideals and principles.
The unveiling of the statue is thus in recognition of all the legacies that the Awolowo dynasty is enviably known for and the beginning of the realization of all his aspirations for a better Nigeria and the Yoruba people in particular.
Indeed, our joining hands with five other Western States in the Oodua Investment Conglomerate and championing the political and economic integration of Western Nigeria shall never be in vain.
In the same corollary, the position of Lagos State on restructuring remains the same as stipulated in the manifesto of our great party, the All progressives Congress, which states that “The APC shall initiate action to amend our Constitution with a view to devolving powers, duties and responsibilities to States and local governments in order to entrench true Federalism and the Federal spirit”. Hence, we welcome the restructuring committee of the APC presently going round the country.
We as a people are serious in making sure that this part of the party’s manifesto comes to pass and as the late sage, Pa Obafemi Awolowo, rightly said in one of his eternal thoughts and I quote”… The Nigeria which the British handed over to us, had in it the forces of its own disintegration. It is up to contemporary Nigerian leaders to neutralize these forces, preserve the Nigerian inheritance, and make all our people free, forward-looking and prosperous…” end of quote.
Hence, this monument is erected by the Lagos State government to celebrate the legendary achievements and contribution of an icon in political leadership, Chief Obafemi Awolowo.
This statue is not just about beautifying the environment or serving as a tourist attraction, but more importantly, it is meant to be a constant reminder to all of us and future generations of the need to value the sacrifice of our heroes and strive to uphold and promote the ideals which they stood for.
May the labour of our heroes past never be in vain.
God bless the Awolowo family as we pray for the continued repose of his soul.
Thank you and God bless you all.
…Says Sector Key To State’s Economic Growth, Youth Empowerment
Lagos State Governor, Mr. Akinwunmi Ambode on Sunday said the State is more than ready to take the driving seat for the development of Tourism, Arts and Entertainment in Africa.
Governor Ambode, who spoke on a programme on Ben TV, United Kingdom, as a prelude to the ongoing Notting Hill Carnival, said his administration in the last 27 months has made concerted efforts to fulfill one of his campaign promises to ensure that Lagos becomes the tourism and entertainment hub of Africa.
The Governor, who was represented at the programme by his Special Adviser on Tourism, Arts and Culture, Hon. Mrs Adebimpe Akinsola, said his administration was seriously implementing project T.H.E.S.E. an acronym for Tourism, Hospitality, Entertainment and Sporting Excellence to boost tourism, employment generation and relaxation especially for the youth.
“Under project T.H.E.S.E, we are resolved to grow the Lagos economy and empower the youth through several alternative means which include the tactical promotion of tourism, entertainment and sports.
“Our intention is to put Lagos on the world map as one of the top 10 tourist destinations because we know that the hospitality and entertainment business is thriving and that is the reason we are investing heavily on this sector. The truth is that the era of white collar job is over. The ultimate now is to encourage youth entrepreneurship and create a platform for our youths below 35 who are the future of tomorrow; because when they are engaged meaningfully they would contribute their quota towards increasing the IGR of the State,” the Governor said.
He also restated his commitment to build five new arts theatres across the State as part of efforts to engage the youths and promote tourism through arts and entertainment.
The Governor said the decision to participate in the Notting Hill Carnival holding from Saturday 26 to Monday 28 August, was to keep with the tradition of showcasing the State’s entertainment and tourism potentials to the world.
He said this year’s edition also coincided with Lagos 50th Anniversary celebration, saying that it would also offer opportunity to woo Nigerians in diaspora and tourists alike to visit Lagos.
“We are here again this year, the second year running in a global platform which the Notting Hill Carnival represents as it attracts people from all over the world. Our presence here is to attract not only Lagosians, but blacks generally that Lagos is now the destination that every one of them must come to.
“Lagos is having its own corner. Nigeria does not have a corner, no African country has a corner here, we are using Lagos corner to tell the world that we are prepared to be home for entertainment and tourism because it would drive the economy of Lagos, the 24/7 economy in such a way that anytime you come to Lagos, there is something to celebrate. So we invite our brothers in the diaspora to come and exploit the beauty of Lagos,” Governor Ambode said.