- Fela got the idea of Kalakuta while in prison
- Kalakuta is a Swahili word meaning rascal
- Fela named his residence and shrine Kalakuta
- It all started in Surulere
The iconic musician, activist and Pan-Africanist, Fela Anikulapo Ransom Kuti was a legend known around the world. He pioneered the music genre Afrobeat, popular in Nigeria and other parts of Africa today. Fela started Kalakuta Republic many years back. The historical story linked to the creation is so interesting.
Kalakuta which means rascal in Swahili was gotten from the cell that Fela stayed in while in prison. The year was 1974. Fela was jailed for being in possession of weed. While in prison the prisoners jokingly Called the communal cell where he was held, Kalakuta Republic . He liked the sound of the name and so when he came out of jail, he called his neighborhood and place of residence the Kalakuta Republic.
Kalakuta Republic all started in Surulere, Lagos
Initially the Kalakuta Republic was located at Sururele, a suburb in Lagos ,where Fela, his large family of 28 wives and memebers of his band he named Afrika 70 lived until February 18,1977, when soldiers burnt down the Kalakuta Republic and broke down it’s defensive parameters. In the process, the women there women were raped and men were beaten. Funmi Kuti, Fela’s mother, a hero of Nigeria’s independence struggle, was not spared in the brutal attack. His mother despite being 77 years old then was thrown down from an upstairs window. This terrible experience led to the fracture of her leg and subsequently her death, a year later, due to the traumatic experience she had to go through. Other things destroyed were Fela’s master tapes, vehicles, recording studio, a free medical clinic managed by Dr Beko Kuti, Fela’s brother who also suffered from severe beatings by the soldiers.
Fela was not left out as he was beaten by the soldiers too, but all the loss and attack did not silence him he will always come back strong, regroup and rebuild the Kalakuta Republic.
The present day Kalakuta Museum was built in 2012. It was the former residence of Fela ,built to standard and has now become a tourist attraction to people from all over the world who have heard of his story and are lovers of the Afrobeat genre of music. The museum holds relics of the life of Fela Kuti. You get the opportunity to see the bedroom of Fela ,with his refrigerator ,his shoes, the outfits ad fur coats he wore on his tours , and even his signature tenor saxophone, were well preserved until this day , there is so much more to explore on your visit to the museum.