USAfrica and USAfricaonline.com (characterized by The New York
Times as the most influential African-owned, U.S-based multimedia
networks) established May 1992, our first edition of USAfrica magazine
was published August 1993; USAfrica The Newspaper on May 11, 1994; CLASSmagazine on May 2, 2003; www.PhotoWorks.TV in 2005
Femi Kuti brings the roof down at Ravinia music festival in Chicago
Special to USAfricaonline.com, CLASSmagazine, Nigeria360@yahoogroups.com and The Black Business Journal, Houston. https://usafricaonline.com/femikuti.pamojek09.html
On getting to Ravinia, in Highland Park, Illinois on Wednesday July 1st, 2009 we walked around the grounds a bit before the concert started. We saw Nigerians decked out in unique fashion and styles galore. (Trust us Nigerians; we know how to do it!)
The crowd was mixed and some of the people we spoke to thought it was such a deal to come and listen to 2 great Nigerian musicians. Femi Kuti and Sunny Ade were featured.
Ravinia is a place where concerts are held. It has large expansive grounds and people picnic out there during concerts. Several restaurants are scattered all over the grounds. Alcohol kiosks were strategically placed near the band shell. The band shell comes with seats and that is where all the action is.
Femi’s Positive Force opened up the concert. The band was playing and his dancers came in looking very energetic as demonstrated in their steps.
They were decked out in yellow skimpy skirts with a bra top and lot of African beads. The band was in an Ankara top with matching pants. The whole presentation looked great as the colors in their outfits coordinated with each other. The lighting on the stage with the graphic background drop gave the whole place the Afrikan Shrine look. The dancers twisted and gyrated to the pulsating mesmerizing sounds. A quick look around the front row seats showed all the men (and some women too) watching with rapt attention.
When Femi came out, the crowd erupted into cheers. His first song was Stop Aids. This song was written when his father Fela Anikulapo Kuti died.
Femi is emerging as one of Nigeria’s top crusaders on the fight against AIDS. After 3 songs, he stopped and addressed his crowd. He thanked everyone for coming out and taught his reoccurring verse of: Ara ra ra ra ra; and the response of: oro ro ro ro ro. He engaged the audience with those chants and they responded with enthusiasm, further charging the already charged air. Femi enlivened the audience by singing Bang Bang Bang — his most controversial song that was banned on the Nigerian airwaves. Some people could not hold back any longer as dancing in their seats was not doing it for them. The aisles quickly filled up with people, dancing and singing. When he got to the part where he sings: jump, jump, jump, the crowd was already jumping.
Can’t Buy Me, a song that addresses the sugar daddy syndrome, was greeted by cheers…. When he sang his anti government song, Se Were, the crowd was really ready for the roof to come down as the dancing got more frenzied. When he ended with Fela Ko Ji Ku, a song stating that Fela still lives, he took the roof with him as he exited. The band continued playing and the dancers gyrated and twisted their way off stage. The audience hung around clapping and cheering hoping Femi would make another appearance. He was back stage getting ready to depart to his next destination. What a show!
We made my way back stage and were ushered in with some of his other friends. We had a chance to chat for a few minutes and he shared that though he was playing with Sunny that day, that they crossover in some places. Sunny opened the show for then in Minnesota. They have another appearance together in Montreal. Femi and Positive Force have 7 more shows left on their Tour of Europe. Their return to Nigeria will be in early August 2009.
On the closure of Afrika Shrine, Femi said “it was opened one week after it was closed. We were given 48 hours to address some issues and after they were served papers, the government swooped in and closed Shrine down” before the time they were given to address those issues passed. The issues had to do with street traders, parking and noise pollution. Femi’s answer to all that was these: “It is left for them to clear the street traders and not a job for Afrika Shrine. On the issue of noise pollution, Fashola should close down all Churches and Mosques. The security men placed there by Fashola should do their job and control traffic effectively”. Femi further states that Governor “Fashola banned street parties oneweek before Felabration.” Felabration was a celebration on Fela’s 70th birthday. The event featured many Nigerian musicians who performed for little or nothing at New Afrika Shrine. Certainly, he is moving his father’s name and efforts into a new generation.
Pamela Mojekwu is Chicago-based contributing editor of USAfricaonline.com and CLASSmagazine, Houston . She is one of the leading fitness experts in the world with almost 30 years media experience. Published July 28, 2009 on USAfricaonline.com
Linking to this report is appreciated. Archiving on any other web site or newspaper is unauthorized except with a Written Approval by USAfricaonline.com Founder.
Fela: The Life and Times of controversial Afrobeat superstar. By Chido Nwangwu, Publisher USAfricaonline.com. Special Report on August 4, 1997