Akinwunmi Ambode, governor of Lagos state, on Sunday said Fela Anikulapo-Kuti, Afrobeat legend, used his saxophone as a weapon to fight for the liberation of the people from neo-colonialism and bad governance.
Speaking at Allen roundabout, Ikeja, while unveiling a statue in honour of Fela, 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.
He eulogised the virtues of the late freedom fighter, 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.
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,” 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 15, 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.”
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, 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, 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.
Responding on behalf of the family, Yeni Kuti, Fela’s daughter, commended Ambode and the artist for coming up with such a monument to recognise and honour their father.
She justified the design of the monument, saying it was the expression of how the artist felt about the late legend.