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.
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.