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Femi Kuti brings the roof down at Ravinia music festival
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On getting to Ravinia, in Highland Park, Illinois onWednesday 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.
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Impeachment process shows Nigerian democracy "is alive... being tested." Nigeria's president retired Gen. Olusegun Obasanjo has said that the impeachment process shows that "democracy is alive, is being tested, and being tried.... What they (the legislators) have tried to do in the democratic way, which is not easy, would probably have been done by taking arms or by -- with bullets. So, but with democracy, of course, some people feel that this is the way this should be, and then I have an opportunity to defend myself. There is discussion. There is dialogue. There is a decision. There is fairness." He made these comments when he appeared on Tuesday September 17, 2002 on CNN International to discuss the issues of impeachment facing him, the allegations of corruption, abuse of the constitution and deployment of soldiers ina civilian environment which led to the "massacre of civilians" in Odi (Bayelsa) and Zaki Biam (Benue). On the charges by international human rights organizations and Nigerian media that his government has been involved in actions which have led to the deaths of thousands of Nigerians, the retired General gave a surprising answer. He was asked that "as many as 10,000 people, it's being reported, have been killed in Nigeria (in) communal rivalries, and the number is believed to be increasing. And people are saying that although President Obasanjo has done a lot of good for Nigeria, you're accused of not -- accused of failing to halt that spiraling violence."
Obasanjo: Let me say this to you, when you put the question
of 10,000 -- 10,000 people dying in Nigeria, of course, for
a population of over 120 million people...."
But USAfricaonline.com Founder and
recipient of the Journalism Excellence award (1997),
Nwangwu, who appeared on the same program as as a CNN
International analyst (Africa) pointed out that "when
(President Obasanjo) answered that in a country of 100
million that 10,000 people are said to have died, as if that
was a small number, that in itself reflects a disconnect
with the concerns of Nigerians. The second one is that when
the risk is civil disagreement, the police are required to
intervene in the country. And the deployment of the armed
forces of Nigeria requires at least some consultation,
however modest, with the parliament." Nwangwu,
former member of the editorial board of Nigeria's Daily
Times continued that "the third
factor that is equally important to underscore is that the
armed forces of Nigeria moved in for a punitive action
rather than just containing a civil
disagreement." He noted in USAfricaonline.com
backgrounder "it was revealing and interesting interesting
discussing Nigeria's issues with its leader - under the
current circumstances of an increasingly out-of-schedule
elections and the gathering storm of an impeachment process
by a majority of the members of the National Assembly,
predominantly by Obasanjo's party members." See
transcript of the CNN
International news program.
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