Monday, October 17, 2011

Felabration 2011: Fela's Children

A young man raises a clenched fist in honour of Fela at the end of an Afrobeat performance at the Afrika Shrine during Felabration 2011
Friday night is usually the biggest of all the performances during the annual weeklong Felabration. Extremely long queues of people trying to get into the Afrika Shrine can be seen all over as the crowd press into each other. However, order is maintained by the aptly named green-shirted Shrine Police that keep everyone in check with their whips and clubs and sometimes a machete or two. It's not as rowdy as it may sound. 

So struggling to get inside with my media pass, I tried to document the crowd and their loyalty to the genre created by the genius that Fela Kuti was. I have decided to call this post Fela's Children because no matter how long that it seems the legend has been dead, he still possesses a huge following of young men and women (some who were toddlers when he died and many not even born). Such is the power of Afrobeat that it will grow continuously for a long time. 

 Felabration 2011 has come and gone. Like Gabriel Okara wrote in his poem The Fisherman's Invocation, "the celebration is now ended, the drums lay quiet, silent, waiting" for another year.  

Faces of young men in crowd during Felabration 2011 
Cross section of the audience at the Afrika Shrine during Felabration 2011
Security guards frisk a man on the long queue to enter the Afrika Shrine during Felabration 2011