Global, a world music venue in Copenhagen (Denmark) was packed to capacity, the audience standing shoulder to shoulder as Seun Kuti, the youngest son of Afrobeat King, Fela Kuti, mounted the stage with his father’s band, Egypt ’80, during a recent concert.
Bandleader and sax-player Baba Ani, got the night underway with a tune from his own compositions whilst introducing the musicians who have played together for over three decades, as Seun remained backstage. When Seun Kuti stepped forward with his saxophone playing “VIP”, one of his father’s songs in a tribute, the audience roared to welcome him. Following up quickly with tracks from his current album “A Long way to the Beginning”, the audience yelled for more.
At this juncture, Seun responded with a 10 minute speech on social injustice in society before playing a tune he calls “IMF”, lambasting international financial institutions, quite similar to the lyrics from his father’s song “ITT) (International Thief Thief).
With two female backing singers wriggling their waists to the rhythm, Seun played ”African Airways”, ”Kalakuta Boy”, ”African Smoke” and ”Black Woman”, (among others), a song he dedicates not only to African women but also all women around the word.
Introducing ”Finding Fela”, a documentary on the life of his father, which premiered at Empire Bio, in the Nørrebro district in the Danish capital, few hours before his concert, Seun said, “Fela’s life had many layers which cannot all be captured in a hundred minute film”.
Seun and his brother Femi are the two commercially successful musical offspring of the late Nigerian Afrobeat innovator Fela Kuti. At the age of nine Seun expressed the wish to sing to his father. A short while later Seun started performing with his father and the band. Since then, he has followed the political and social ethos of his father.
After Fela died in 1997, Seun, then only 14 years old, became the lead singer of Egypt 80. While in school Seun had to choose between a career in music and one in football for which he has an outstanding talent. He honed his musical skills for several years. Those skills were showcased to the world with his 2008 debut album, Many Things, produced by Martin Meissonnier, who had already produced two albums for his father.
About three quarters of the current Egypt ’80 line-up consists of musicians that not only played with Fela Kuti, but also often were arrested and harassed alongside the founder of the Afrobeat movement. Both events were jointly organized by world music venue, Global and Copenhagen International Documentary Festival (CPH:DOX) which runs from November 6 to 16. This year, the festival which has a special category on African films with the theme” Africa Rising”, will see the screening of number of films on and from the continent.
These include “Finding Hillywood” (Rwanda), “National Diploma” (Congo), “Family Goldmine” (Mali), “Between Rings” (Zambia), “The Last Hijack” (Somalia), “Finding Fela” (Nigeria) and “We Come As Friends” (South Sudan). Also featuring is an exhibition and talk on the theme “Africa In The Time of Change”, where three African entrepreneurs who are all playing an important part in the change happening right now in Ghana, Gambia and Zimbabwe, will speak.
They are Hermann Chinery-Hesse (SOFTribe), software engineer and better known as the Bill Gates of Ghana, Ibrahim Ceesay (Africa 2.0) entrepreneur and activist fighting for youth rights in Gambia and Pau Mangwana (Mangwana and Partners), top politician and lawyer from Zimbabwe.
By Alfred Tamakloe
Copenhagen – Denmark
Pictures by Crawfurd Media – Film & Photography