Nigeria opens museum to "Afrobeat King" Fela Kuti

Tue Oct 16, 2012 2:05pm EDT
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By Sharon Atseyinku and David Sani

LAGOS (Reuters) - When he was alive, Fela Kuti electrified Nigerians and many music lovers the world over with his hip-shaking and strangely hypnotic blend of jazz, funk and West African folk rhythms.

His legendary sexual exploits with dozens of women, marijuana smoking and fearless critiques of Nigeria's then corrupt and oppressive military regime only served to heighten the mystique.

This week Nigeria opened a new museum to the King of Afrobeat, at the start of a week-long annual "Felabration" to mark his 74th birthday on Monday, in the commercial hub Lagos.

"Everybody has a piece of Fela in him. He touched everybody," said the Theo Lawson, the architect who converted Fela's old family house into the government-funded museum.

The house is also a boutique hotel, with a bar and stage.

"We didn't want a museum that closes at night and the life source leaves the building," Lawson explained.

Inside, decorations include brightly colored murals, chic African art, photos from his life and performances, and a wall devoted to the different flamboyant shoes he wore.

His bedroom remains as has been since he died of HIV/AIDS in 1997: a bed, clothes, more shoes, colorful underpants -- often they were all he wore. His electric keyboard has been mounted.   Continued...

A videographer films photographs of Nigeria's music legend Fela Kuti during the opening ceremony of a museum in his honour in Lagos October 15, 2012. REUTERS/Akintunde Akinleye