With Evergreen Beats Of Fela, Africa Future Berths
THE mini garden of the First Foundation compound in Ikeja, Lagos, provided a perfect ambience for the night. With the stage packed full with musical instruments, it was obvious guests were in for a live gig. But this is a different show, quite different from the regular. Embedded in the showpiece that lasted into the night, was a conscious message for Africa’s emancipation by the Africa Future, a new movement that seeks to change the African narrative.
The guest list cuts across class and age; every group is represented, including the expatriates. Notable among guests present are Senator Olorunnimbe Mamora, Oscar Ibru, Caterina Bortolussi of Kinabuti, Majek Fashek, Ras Kimono, top fashion designer MUDI, comedian Tee A, Kelvin Orifa of MTN, Seun Kuti, Gloria Ibru… it was a rich gathering of Lagos socialites, with young people well represented.
On the bandstand was Dede Mabiaku, a protégée of the late Afrobeat creator, Fela Anikulapo Kuti. For sure, his selection as headliner for the formal unveiling of the Africa Future project was not by accident. As an acolyte of the late music legend, Mabiaku was considered a perfect choice to interpret Felea’s messages to the audience.
Just as Mabiaku and his band were set to drag guests to the dance floor with heavy Afrobeat sound, the founder of Africa Future, Dr. Tosin Ajayi of First Foundation was invited for an opening remark that go many thinking. All through the 19 minutes he spoke, the atmosphere was very calm, a sign that his message made great impact on the audience.
“I’m only here to make some remarks; the lecturer tonight is Fela Anikulapo Kuti and the lecture is going to be delivered by his protégée Dede Mabiaku. I have been here for a while; I’ve been in Africa for a while, I’ve been in Nigeria for a while. I’m an African per excellence; I live in Africa very actively and intelligently. I’ve seen who we are and what perhaps we can do,” he said.
Ajayi noted that Africa form 15 per cent of the world population, occupying six per cent of the total landmass, adding the continent covers 20 per cent of the upland. But more important in this statistics, he said, is the fact that 60 per cent of African population is 19 and below.
“We have a very young population; a young population begging for development and modification. We go in our big cars and live in our mansions; we may be politicians, engineers, doctors, ICT professionals, but it looks like we can do nothing,” he submitted.
According to Wikipedia, Africa is a rich continent, but many African people are poor.
“We have resources all over us, we don’t even know them; we don’t even appreciate them. We don’t even look at them; we only go round everyday, deceiving ourselves, promising what we cannot do,” Ajayi lamented.
In March 2013, the World Bank identified Africa as the poorest inhabited continent, a statistics that should move every African to take action.
“That’s what we are,” Ajayi said. “We have all the resources, but we cannot use them. And look at what Donald Trump said: ‘In my opinion, most of these African countries ought to be recolonised again for another 100 years because, they know nothing about leadership and self governance.’ He said the only thing we know is about food, sex and thuggery. Donald Trump is talking about all of us,” he said.
According to Ajayi, Africa’s challenges are not a priority to the world, adding that only African can solve its problems.
“129 people were killed in Paris, France and they moved the world. And somebody asked Major General Spider Marks, ‘People die daily in Africa, nobody has moved the world.’ And he said, ‘sub-Sahara Africa is not a priority to the world.’ We are all in it; we all go about in our ties and bow bow gowns to party, but this is the opinion of the world about us,” he harped.
For the Africa Future founder, poverty in Africa is a scare on our conscience and indeed on the conscience of the world.
“It’s also a thorn on our flesh. If you are not feeling the scar, if you are not feeling the thorn, it means your mentality has not risen to that point. Unemployment is everywhere, under development everywhere. People are living like animals; we cannot even rear our children. We do thing the way we’ve been doing it from the beginning.
“Those of us who here, who can eat, who can by cars, those of us, who can go to Chinese restaurants and pay N50,000 to eat, those of us, who can travel abroad, when we come back, we go and thank God on Friday or Sunday that we are not like other poor people in our community. The reason is because, we compare ourselves and we think we are favoured, but the whole world looks at us in pity. A people that cannot harness the resources around them, is really below human level,” he said.
While urging Africans to rise and chance the fortunes of the continent, Ajayi called for peace and brotherly love among Africans.
“We don’t need to be jealous of each other; this landscape must change. There must be a paradigm shift; nobody is going to come to Africa to do it for us. We have to stand by ourselves and do it, and it can be done today. If all of us here are determined to start thinking of Africa and start doing something about Africa, we re going to change our continent.”
He continued: “Our consciousness must be improved; it must grow for us to recognise that the 20 per cent of landmass we are occupying belong to us; it has all the wealth to make us rich. We do not have to go through corruption; we have a lot around us,” he noted.
To the First Foundation boss, mankind has produced the greatest tool ever through ICT, which can be used change the story of Africa.
“We can change Africa in a generation; it’s possible. We all look at information technology tools that are around us today; we can put something there that will change our children. That way, we can start producing children that are not like us. We can use our means and we can use information technology; we should concentrate on the children that are coming behind and make sure that they look at the world and see a world we were not able to see.”
Through Africa Future project, Ajayi and his team are leading a new movement that will cause change and create Africa as a department in our faculty.
“As we leave here toning, I want you to sit up and consider Fela’s music from a different point of view. Improve your consciousness; think of Africa. Let’s drive ourselves so that we can take advantage of all our forest and mineral resources, of our climate, of everything we have and be a part of the world.”
According to him, “now is the time and I believe that in one generation, we can do something about. This is one of three series; we will be inviting you again to see what we can do together. Other continents develop themselves; I see why we cannot develop ourselves,” he concluded amid a resounding round of applause.
Done with the remarks, Dede Mabiaku mounted the stage with his band and the groove kicked off. However, this time, the lyrics made a lot of sense. From water no get enemy to Suffering and smiling and other popular Fela’s hits, Mabiaku go many thinking. For sure, the dance floor bubbled.
“The future of Africa is in our hands, but we neglect ourselves. We need peace, unity, understanding, rule of law and truth that will bond us together. There’s knowledge and power in the lyrics of Fela,” Mabiaku said.
To the surprise of many, Mabiaku got the Rainmaker, Majek Fashek, who was in the audience with friends, to perform for the audience. Gladly, he obliged him. It was cheers all the way, as Majek opened with his popular tune, Holy Spirit, who took his fans down memory lane.
Just when Majek, who just returned from rehab, was about to take his leave, Mabiaku and his band lured him back with Send Down The Rain. As soon as the bet came blasting from the heavy woofers, The Rainmaker returned and gave a five-start performance of the track that made him great.
Mabiaku also played same trick with Gloria Ibru, who had to come on stage to perform with her daughter.
“When Dede told me about this project, I said it’s difficult to strat, but once we get strated, everything will fall in line,” Gloria said.
He got Seun Kuti as well to perform live on stage.
“After Fela died, Dede Mabiaku took me under his wings; I moved into his house. I didn’t plan to perform tonight because, Dede didn’t explain things to me; he just told me it’s a gathering about Africa. For me, I support anything Africa. We should not only show our success by showcasing what we can buy that we don’t make; we need to begin to change our concept of what it means to be successful,” Seun said.
Mabiaku wrapped up the night with Fela’s evergreen tune, Palava, as guests dispersed.