Monday, June 8, 2009

raiding fela 32 years on

The Lagos State government has been busy bashing away at street hawkers and street markets. Now it has closed up the Africa Shrine, the famous music hall run by Femi and Yeni Kuti, children of famed Afro-beat innovator Fela Kuti. The Independent has details.

Fela's original Africa Shrine was shut by the military in 1977, and Fela himself was "dragged from the building by his genitals." Soldiers threw Fela's mother out the window, and she died from her injuries. Now, 32 years later, a democratic regime has closed the rebuilt club.

I know: it's a club. It's noisy and attracts marijuana smokers (Fela was big on that) and stays open till early morning. Still, it is one of the great attractions of Lagos.

People salute Governor Babatunde Fashola for being a man of action, but from the outside (I haven't been back to Lagos in six months), it seems like he's taken Imperial powers to new heights. And he certainly doesn't understand the importance of the informal economy to his city's survival--and the creative possibilities for harnessing it to create a truly African urbanism.

Oh, and due process? I guess Gov. Fashola, who was trained as a lawyer, simply doesn't believe in it.