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Alafrica opens up: I am paying Fela back for inspiring me

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By Rotimi Agbana

Afrobeat king, Fela Anikulapo Kuti, passed on in the late 90s. Fela’s image loomed large while he was alive. But his image remains larger decades after his demise. Every year, Fela has resurrected, especially on the anniversary of his passing when weeklong programmes are staged.

Only recently, when French President Macron visited Nigeria, one of the places where he was entertained was the Shrine, founded by Fela.

All these show the international stature of the deceased Afrobeat king. Meanwhile, Fela is resurrecting once more. Behind the latest resurrection is Atijosan Jigiaje, the son of a hunter from Ajagba in Ode-Irele LGA, Ondo State, who just released an album in which he paid tribute to the man he described as a legend and his role model.

Operating under the stage name Alafrica, Jigiaje said he started visiting Fela’s Shrine in the early 90s when he first came to Lagos. “Until he passed on, I was a regular visitor to the Shrine because I, too, am a singer, drummer and saxophonist. I started beating the drum to the admiration of the peoplein my town as a kid. Fela inspired me and I wanted to be like him”, he said.

“To me, Fela lives on. He didn’t die because the works he left behind are everlasting”. The album he just released has six tracks titled, Corruption, Teacher, The Truth, Oko Mbe, Tribute to Fela and Boko Haram. “Listening to the album, people say it sounds like Fela has resurrected. But this album is my own way of paying back the Afrobeat legend for inspiring me to take after his music”.

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