Life in Fela’s shrine: The untold story



For the fifty-eight years he lived on earth, the Fela mystique kept the world on the edge of their seats. There was always something out of the ordinary in everything he did: from the rebel streak in him, which was constantly dramatised; to the zombifying lyrics in his music, which constantly gave successive Nigerian military governments the jitters and, of course, his harem of wives, which exaggerated his machismo, Fela Kuti symbolized a cat with nine lives, and, certainly, a cat that touched many lives in Nigeria and beyond.

If you think you have heard everything about the Afrobeat maestro, who, contrary to his parents’ advice for him to study medicine in London, chose to study music at the Trinity College of Music, you could just be like a nitwit whose idea of scientific grandeur is only limited to the gigantic Egyptian pyramid.

Needless to say, you need to read the latest book on Fela, Kalakuta Diaries, written by his erstwhile PRO, Uwa Erhabor, presented to the public early this week at the Nigeria Institute of International Affairs, Lagos.

Unlike other books on Fela that has dwelled on his stage performances, interpretation of his lyrics and political activism, Kalakuta Diaries recounts the untold story of life in Fela’s Kalakuta Republic, his symbolic free world, where those in military fatigue weren’t welcome and even some sane citizens could be charged for jaywalking. Kalakuta Diaries tells stories of the seamy side of life in Fela’s iconoclastic home and lot more.

It could be outlawed elsewhere, but smoking of weeds wasn’t in his republic –of course he prefers to call it “African grass” –and if you couldn’t charge cows and goats for grazing on grass, why should you charge Fela for feasting on nature’s grassy environment?

That was his contention, but the Nigerian government didn’t just buy into his grassy defence. Marijuana has been outlawed in Nigeria for many decades, and Fela wasn’t to be treated like a scared cow. On many occasions, the minions of the law were after the Afrobeat king, and the lead-up to his arrest and arraignment in court was always melodramatic.

Don’t forget, no Nigerian soldier, soon after it was released, loved his song, Zombie. The song’s lyrics of Zombie no go unless you tell am to go/ Zombie no go stop unless you tell am to stop…was a scathing commentary on their soulless lives and that of total submission to the military command –to maim and kill without compunction. On one particular occasion, a group of soldiers, led by the late Major General Musa Bamaiyi, was nosing about in the Kalakuta Republic to get a whiff of him smoking marijuana in order to arraign him and possibly put him behind bars.

That opportunity came when the cops caught him red-handed one day with a mould of marijuana. To them, that was it: the maverick musician would soon be cut out from the world and, therefore, wouldn’t trouble anybody anymore or serve as a negative influence on the youths.

But Fela could play the James Bond sometimes, and so he did. Aware that catching him with prohibited marijuana was too empirical an evidence to be condoned, Fela instantly swallowed the stuff. The cops were perplexed by his brazen attitude, beat him up and whisked him away to the dreaded Alagbon police station. But another drama was yet to unfurl. The police and the nation waited for Fela to defecate the swallowed marijuana, but he didn’t twenty-four hours later.

If only he could do that, thought the police, it would be an incriminating evidence to nail him. Aware of that possibility, Fela’s mum, the late Funmilayo Ransome Kuti, decided to take over preparation of his food in detention. Cleverly, she fed him with vegetable soup with little garri thrice a day, and, on the third day, Fela eventually defecated, but no marijuana was detected in the faeces! What was the miracle?

His daily ration of vegetable soup had dissolved the marijuana. Thus, Fela was let go. This and other weird stories are contained in the new book. “In my 31 years of legal practice, Fela has been one of my most wonderful and intelligent clients,” said his former lawyer, Femi Falana (SAN), at the launch of Kalakuta Diaries. “He was one client who deliberately committed criminal offence and his cases were the toughest yet easiest to handle, because he would make it easier for you.” No thanks to his wily ways.

It sounded incredible yet true that Fela had no house of his and a car before he died, said Falana, who also revealed that he didn’t leave behind riches but integrity. The new book was sponsored by Chief Rasheed Gbadamosi, who said he had to do that, because “anything on Fela is an automatic ‘yes’ from me.”

Speaking at the book launch, he recounted how he met Fela the first time as a university student in the UK in the 1960s and fell in love with his music. “When we were bored in our days as students in the UK, we always found consolation in Fela’s band and we felt nostalgic about Highlife music in Nigeria.”

He also disclosed that, on his return to Nigeria in 1969, Fela’s Afrobeat music took over him. If we want to break the stereotype about Nigeria, Promasidor’s MD, Kim Roland, the chief launcher at the vent, said we have to write more books like Kalakuta Diaries, because Nigeria has limited written history about it and its peoples.

For Yinka Odumakin, the greatest wealth anybody can leave is integrity and a good name and those behind to take after him, and Fela, he said, was a genius in that regard.

The author of the book, Erhabor, said it was saddening that people in the western world have to remind us how great Fela was before we begin to celebrate him. Vouching for the contents of the book, Fela’s son, Seun Kuti, said, though some of the things in the book sound exaggerated, they are real, indeed. More than two decades after he died, Fela’s music has continued to capture the imagination of the world, not just because of its twang of resistance but in its powerful lyrical dancing effects.

Fela, as an undergrad in London, formed his first band, Koola Lobitos, which invented Afrobeat music, a variation of Highlife music that fuses jazz, funk, rock and traditional African rhythms and chants. A non-conformist, contrary to pop music norm, many of his songs last more than 20 minutes and his live performances, which he dubbed the “Underground Spiritual Game” was the epitome of showmanship.

Following the release of Zombie album, Nigerian soldiers invaded the Kalakuta Republic, beat him mercilessly, burnt his studio and destroyed his instruments and master tapes, killed his mother, as well. Never to be intimidated, he wrote two nasty songs “Coffin for Head of State” and “Unknown Soldier”. He soldiered on till the end in 1997.

24 yrs boy started importation with N10,450. Read his story here!

Men, forget Viagra. Use these to increase your manhood size & strength

How 2make over N500,000 in less than 12 days like I did

How watermelon made a Benin boy over N1,000,000 in 73days

Superb premature ejaculation spray. You 'll last 30minutes+

How to earn 40k-200k monthly from football matches almost on autopilot

3 Things I did to cure premature ejaculation after my wife left me

Small manhood and premature ejaculation limited my performance for 4yrs!

7 Simple yet amazing steps to earn over N200,000/monthly. Click here

How to get flat belly in just 9 days. Click here!

How to turn your Facebook to ATM machine that vomits cash

How 28yrs Lagos boy increased his manhood strength & size in 18days

Click here now if you are interested in earning at least N7,500/daily

How a young Nigerian generate over N1,000,000/month via digital marketing

Are you a real man? Click here to know if you are?

Get daily updates of jobs in Nigeria. Apply for your dream jobs

Work from home and get paid at least $1000 weekly!

Get bigger manhood and cure premature ejaculation using these solutions!

Housewife reveals How to Turn N8,500 into N100,000 monthly!

Small manhood made me lose my fiancee to a next neighbour

Shocking! See 1 crazy trick a man uses to last long on his wifey


About Author


  1. crappy crap. what became of those innocent girls that daced their young innocent lives away for this man? what became of them? agreed he was kind of mentally ill. stop eulogising him. he ruined lives even that of his children. i beg make i see road.

    • @ Latifa thank you very much. I dont know why some people just like to tell lies, and deceive people with fake stories. They never say how, fela distroyed many youths life.

    • You are very wrong. I dont think you know anything about Fela. He was known and respected all over the world. I attended the last concert he did in Manchester UK just before he passed away. The show was fantastic and after the show he lectured students from Manchester University at the NAI CENTER about Africanism and corrupt leaders in Africa. He is a legend and nobody can take that away from him and his family. So if you dont know anything about Fela find out or shut up and that goes for Francis cole as well.

  2. What about those girls following sugar daddy now? Many of them have been killed for rituals. Many nigerians are not sincere and honesty. Fela was a polygamist and fornicator as well as drug addict. Many people who abuse him are murderers, thief , fornicator, drug barron and addict.

  3. Leave dem. Does thief and human killer living dem now dey can not see them, all dey get is award upon award. God is watching

  4. Leave dem. Does thief and human killer living with dem now dey cannot see them, all dey get is award upon award. God is watching

  5. Did he force them to do it? was it not on agreement? Why not praise this man for fighting this corrupt country from the on set? Our politician still ruin the lives of our youth by giving dem guns during election time. Give honor to dos who deserve it

  6. We Nigerian are full of there anyone that is perfect in all ways?had it been that Michael Jackson was a Nigeria nobody wil honor him for d plastic surgery.FELA.Forever Ever Live Afrobeat I love u

  7. Peter Ike Offurum. on

    Fella’s Fanatical admiration;
    Being an ardent admirer of Fella’s music from quite an tender age,I have grown to develope grave passion for his music to an extent of fanaticaly admirational level for his musical pieces of work.
    Behind the vaparism of induced marijuana assisted performance,i saw truth,reality,fearlessness,deffending the deffenceless in our society,propagation of message of equality,compassion to the less privilege ,love for one another and exposition of abuse of office. All these qualities have summed up to have a similar idealogy of my poor individual being.
    It is obvious,in a society where non of these qualities is officially upheld or promoted;instead,the promoters of such qualities face condemnation and persecution,hence the coined phrase,”if you can’t win them,join them”.In places of work,social organizational associations,religeous organizations,people are frequently profaned,mocked and persecuted,sometimes, pay the ultimate price with their individual precious lives for being honest and defenders of truth,equality,fair-play and justice.Fella was insistant irrespective of the consequences of his crusade of peace and justice. I realy envy him for these noble and admirable qualities. He is resting in peace,Amen!!! n Amen!!!. Those of us alive,should emulate such enviable qualities.For me,am on that part already;what about you?

Leave A Reply