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.


Anonymous said...

Unfortunately, its people like you that spread false information. The closure was by the federal government, who controls the police in the country. Please be aware it says Nigerian Police not Lagos Police. The federal government was the one that closed the club not the Lagos state government.

rn said...

Unfortunately, anon, what you write is just not true.

It may have been federal police who enforced the closure, but, according to this Agence France Presse wire service report, they were operating on authority of the Lagos State government:

Nigerian authorities shut Fela's Kuti son's club

May 28, 2009

LAGOS (AFP) — Authorities in Nigeria have shut the new Africa Shrine, a music venue built and owned by Femi Kuti, a son of the Afro-beat legend Fela Kuti, the family said Thursday.

A letter from Lagos authorities dated Monday, accused the Shrine of breaching the state's environmental laws citing "noise nuisance, illegal street trading, indiscriminate parking, blocking of access roads and obstruction of traffic."

Yeni Kuti, a dancer and the eldest child of Fela Kuti, who co-manages the club with Femi, said the state government gave the Kuti family 48 hours "to abate the nuisance and restore the land to a conducive environment" but closed the club less than 24 hours after the delivery of the letter.

"I'm shocked, indignant. They dropped the note on Monday evening and the next day at 9:00 am they had closed the place," she told AFP.

Fela Kuti died of AIDS on August 2, 1997.