Yesterday the French president visited Nigeria to pay homage to the legendary Afrobeat music icon, Fela Anikulapo Kuti. One of the lessons to be learnt from such magnanimous gesture is simply that Fela is not just a musician but an institution. It is again an eye opener for all of us especially the Nigerian government to begin to look inward to support and promote our indigenous music and musicians for better tourism opportunities now and in the future.
The close connectivity between France and Nigeria didn’t just start today but the great Abami Eda over the years has made his mark felt in France with his Afrobeat music and today become a leading light that is respected and duly acknowledged.
Today Femi Kuti , Fela Anikulapo Kuti’s son has kept the flag on and for over 40 years remained steadfast in projecting his father’s musical legacy the world over and also become one of Macron’s favorite African musician.
Asa another Nigerian musician and tourism product was also among those who visited our country yesterday to celebrate Abami Eda. Asa who is now based in France would have withered away if not for the French government who took up full responsibility of her musical exposure the world over.
The Nigerian government has so much to take home from this visit. One of the major lessons is that they should support professional indigenous musicians who can promote our music and culture outside the shores of our land. When I say professionals I am talking about musicians that can play with bands, that can play different musical instruments, that studied music, etc Many years ago in Ghana the then president, Nkrumah supported traditional musicians as a move towards African music renaissance.
Nkrumah and his conventional people’s party were people oriented and populist in action and ideology. He openly supported the establishment of Highlife bands and concerts parties as well as providing performance venues. He sponsored many of Ghana’s musicians to study music outside the country. In Nigeria, the Action Group led by Chief Obafemi Awolowo, the premier of the Western Region brought a large set of musical instruments which, in the words of Highlife musician Orlando Julius, was enough to set up Thirty Big Bands. These instruments were housed at the secretariat of the Action Group in the Oke Ado area of Ibadan. Here several Nigerians had the privilege of free musical training.
The Nigerian government today hasn’t harnessed the tourism potential in the country. What we define as musical tourism in Nigeria today is what I choose to call a child’s play and musical pollution.
Where are the professional musicians? Where are the livebands? Where are the music institutions? Where are the indigenous music promoters? Where are the indigenous radio/Tv Stations? Where are the indigenous record labels? Where are the agencies that support music and art? Where are the performing centers for musicians? Where the musical associations? How many corporate organizations support indigenous music? Many of these questions don’t have an answer.
Today Femi Kuti has kept the flag on and for over 40 years remained steadfast in projecting his father’s music the world over and also become one of Macron’s favourite African musician.
So what is left for us to sell to the world that is original to our culture? Just Noise if you ask me.