The late afrobeat pioneer, Fela Kuti, would likely face criticism and calls for his imprisonment if he were alive today, according to Grammy-winning Nigerian musician Burna Boy.

The grandson of Fela Kuti’s original manager, Benson Idonjie, Burna Boy, recently discussed his viewpoint in an interview with Apple Music’s Zane Lowe in New York.

He emphasised that Fela Kuti’s experiences during his period were distinct from what musicians would face today, while acknowledging that the contemporary era has particular dynamics.

Burna Boy

The musician claimed that given the attitudes of the day, many of the people who currently honour Fela Kuti might have adopted a different viewpoint.

The singer expressed thanks for the circumstances of that time, which allowed Fela Kuti to use his music to transmit his profound words, as she thought back on the significance of the period in which he lived.

Burna Boy maintains that Fela Kuti’s influence was made possible by the unique circumstances of his time, which allowed him to express his conscious creativity, highlighting the fact that spirituality was more prevalent in earlier times.

He also asserted that ignorance and stupidity predominate in today’s society, although they did not at the time of Fela Kuti.

Burna Boy expressed gratitude that Fela Kuti lived during a time when it was possible for people to understand the true significance of his ideas, values, and the profound messages he delivered via his music.

He stated:


“What I have realised is that the times are really funny. Fela in his time was going through things that, if he was here today, it might have been a whole different feeling like a whole bunch of people from Nigeria who you see today celebrating Fela, are the same people that would have been tagging the police to go and arrest Fela if there was Twitter then.

“So, at the end of the day, I feel like God doesn’t make mistakes. You know what I mean like the times are just perfect for everyone, you know.

“If he [Fela] was here today, like his career started now, he may not have the space to explore that [his conscious creativity] because there is too much in this day and age that it just doesn’t interlock with the spirits. Right now, spirituality is almost non-existent.

“Now, it [the society] is just mostly run by stupidity and ignorance. It was still the same back then [during Fela’s era] but it wasn’t as amplified or accessed [as it is today]. Now, everything is defined by stupidity and ignorance.

“I’m grateful for the fact that he [Fela] existed in his time so that we can get an experience of the true organic nature of what he was, the essence of what he stood for and the messages he passed across to us.”


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