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Nigerian King of Afrobeat, Fela Kuti, honoured in Paris

The son of Afrobeat legend Fela Kuti spoke of his father’s bravery in using “music as a weapon” ahead of an immersive exhibition opening at the Paris Philharmonic on Thursday.

“Instead of picking up a gun, music was the only tool he had. It was a weapon to use against authority, against colonisation and corrupt African governments,” said Femi Kuti, 60, himself a hugely successful musician.

The Paris Philharmonic is paying homage to Fela Kuti by recreating the atmosphere of his sweaty, politically-charged nightclub in Nigeria, The Shrine, that became a beacon for global stars in the 1970s including Stevie Wonder and Paul McCartney.

Kuti died from AIDS complications in 1997, but his pioneering work remains as potent as ever, frequently cited by today’s stars such as or Flea from Red Hot Chili Peppers, or Beyonce and Jay-Z who sampled his hit “Zombie” on “Homecoming Live”.

“I’m not surprised. Great people like Miles Davis already talked about Fela,” said Femi Kuti of his father’s continued popularity. “Afrobeat was the basic element of hip-hop, it’s where hip-hop got its sauce from.”

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*The views of the above article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Africa Speaks 4 Africa or its editorial team.

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