First Afrobeat fest celebrates Fela Kuti

Source:Global Times Published: 2010-10-13 10:54:00

Photo: Courtesy of Afrokokoroots

By Vera Penêda

Lovers of all things Afro-Caribbean can spruce up their drums for a massive Afrobeat session this Friday to honor Fela Anikulapo Kuti, inventor of the music style and one of Africa's legendary music icons. A line up of musicians, DJs and dancers will perform at the first Afrobeat festival in Beijing to deliver contemporary African performing arts and an improved image of Africa.

"Fela Kuti is the father of African music and the inspirer of many African musicians who have been shaped by his style," said Sunny Dee, front man of the Beijing band Afrokokoroots and initiator of the event. "This festival is a celebration of a genuine African style of music - a mix of traditional West African ethnic sounds and Highlife music with African-American funk and jazz," Dee explained.

A massive Afro-Caribbean drum jam is set to open the festivities and get people into the spirit of Afrobeat. The party will follow with a performance by the 15-piece band Afrokokoroots and the Beijing based DJ groups Ultimate Productions, Funk Fever and Meiwenti sound will be jamming African music. "We'll play a varied selection of African music, from Fela Kuti's essentials to the contemporary music that is playing in clubs around Africa at the moment," said Samuel Ahadu, from Ultimate Productions, a group of DJs and event producers from African countries and the Caribbean who are a regular presence behind the organization of other events like Bob Marley Day and Africa Day in town. Ahadu called Kuti's music "mesmerizing" and said his influence is unquestionable. "This is a project of love for African culture that brought together great African artists. I hope the festival helps promote a better image of Africa," said Ahadu, while explaining how exposure to African people and culture can help change Chi-nese people's stereotypes about Africans.

"Afrobeat goes beyond the drums and the groove of guitars and horn riffs," said Dee, "It's associated with all African arts. That's why we'll have different performers, a show of African fashion and a painting section." Performances by the National Ballet of Cameroon dance troupe and the group Water the Fire from Ghana will bring street dance, acrobatics and hiplife (African hip hop style) to the stage. MCs Dr Lamarr, from the US, and Mariatu Kargbo, Miss Sierra Leone, will host and sing at the event respectively.

The Fela Kuti Day is widely celebrated in the US and Europe, but "people don't know much about the father of Afrobeat in Asia," said Dee, who wants to make the festival an annual event. "Water No Get Enemy" is one of Kuti's most iconic songs, comparing humanity's need for water with a government's need for its citizens' support. "Fela Kuti was a great musician but also an activist. By celebrating his legacy we're celebrating love and righteousness," Dee concluded.

Kuti became world famous for his politically charged lyrics and rebellious stance as a human rights activist who fought against oppression and corruption in Africa. Born in Nigeria in 1938, the self-proclaimed Black President and Chief Priest would have turned 70 in October of this year.

Yugong Yishan

9 pm

Friday October 15


100 yuan

Posted in: Metro Beijing

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