African History: 8 hidden facts about Fela Anikulapo Kuti, why he married 27 women on the same day in 1978
In 1978, the pioneer of Afrobeats, Fela Anikulapo Kuti, married 27 women in one day. This should not be strange to those who know the life and style of the Nigerian music legend nicknamed Abami Eda (strange creature).
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Many of Fela’s band members became homeless after the devastating soldier attack on Fela’s commune (Kalakuta Republic) in 1977. In order to keep them together, Fela decided to do the unusual.
He gave a piece of paper to his female band members requesting the names of those that would like to marry him; the entire twenty-seven female band members put down their names.
After getting their consent, Fela Kuti married the 27 women on the 20th of February, 1978, at the Parisona Hotel in Anthony, Lagos, with the blessings of twelve Ifa priests. It was alleged that some parents of the ladies objected the marriage.
Fela married the women to protect and keep them together. The marriage ceremony was attended by Fela’s families, friends and other band members.
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During the marriage ceremony, Fela rendered a short speech, pressed naira notes on his new wives’ foreheads and gave them marriage certificates. Fela embraced a rotation system of 12 wives at a time. After the marriage, Fela took his 27 wives to Ghana for honeymoon.
However, in 1986, shortly after his release from prison, Fela Kuti divorced his 27 wives on the claim that marriage brings jealousy. It should be noted that they were not forced to leave his house after the divorce; some lived with him till his death in 1997.
8 things you didn’t know about Fela Anikulapo Kuti (The father of Afrobeats)
- His father was responsible for the primary education of Obasanjo. Fela’s father Mr Ransome Kuti was known then as “Baba gbomgbomo”(the man that steals children) because he use to steal children away from the streets and their mother’s house and take them to school to learn…one of those who benefited from this was Olusegun Obasanjo.
- Fela was predestined to be who he is today. In an interview his mother, Funmilayo Ransome Kuti said an ifa priest had already told her and husband about the destiny of the Fela when he was a child that he would be very stubborn and he would challenge government. For this, his father took extra interest in his education hoping it would lead to one of two things, (1) that the education would change him or (2) even if he was going to challenge the government he do it as an activist and not a hooligan.
- Fela did not start smoking at a young age infact he was still a well behaved young man until his early 20s.
- Fela loved sx, in a book, he said “sx to me is life, it’s a source of life that give great pleasure”
- Fela was supposed to study medicine and be a doctor but instead he chose music and his brother Beko did medicine. Thank God he chose music and gave us the sound we have today, Afrobeat.
- He changed his name from Olufela Ransome-Kuti to Fela Anikulapo Kuti. He claimed “Ransome” was a slave name given to his grand father when he converted to Christianity.
- Fela was not a Christian, he chose ATR, African Traditional Religion till he died.
- Fela once named a pet after former Nigerian Head of State Yakubu Gowon.
Follow up our next post to know the full biography of Fela Anikulapo Kuti.