Fela, is a name that has every Nigerian beaming with confidence, you could see the smiles reaching the back of their heads.


Fela is often referred to as one of the pioneers of the Afrobeat sound, the man who invoked great songs like playthings, often said to be the greatest musician the world has ever seen. Who is Fela? Why does his name still echo in the Nigerian industry? Why there is this obsession to find is a successor?


Olufela Olusegun Oludotun Ransome-Kuti popularly known as Fela was born on October 15, 1938, in Abeokuta, Nigeria. He was the son of a Protestant minister, Reverend Ransome-Kuti. His mother, Funmilayo, was a political activist. From the onset, Fela was very much involved in music learning any musical instrument in could find he was also part of his church choir, the seemingly starting point for all the greats.


In terms of passion, recognition of craft in music and other sectors Fela’s dominance and impact could be compared to the likes of Pele, Michael Jackson, Michael Jordan, and Michael Tyson. He was that good and also very loved, but what stands him apart from the rest is his unending will power, he was an activist at a time when the Nigerian people needed fighters, someone to speak up from them.

Fela was arrested more times too numerous to count and was a victim of beatings and persecution but that never dampened his fight he was in it to the finish, he changed his middle name to “Anikulapo” meaning He who carries death in his pouch. That was the personality of this man.


There have been the craze of people to find an heir to the throne and even artists themselves seek it. Why? First of all, to be regarded to be like Fela is obviously the pinnacle of Nigerian music but is it possible to have full package required in order to be like him?


Let take a look at some Nigerian stars who come close to that according to the public:


Arguably Nigeria best ever musical export regarded as a “national treasure” by so many, Wizkid also pays homage to Fela at every opportunity referring him as his idol and constant use of Fela’s lyrics in his songs, most notably in his song “jaiye jaiye” in which he featured Fela’s Son Femi Kuti. He has all the makings to be as big as Fela but obviously lacking in his activism, he recently spoke out on the just-concluded elections but for someone who calls himself “felaback” which is also the name of his snapchat account, one might say is a little bit too dull on the activism part. Sporadically speaking on political matters is far from enough.



At the beginning of his career Folarin Falana popularly known has “Falz” would never have made this list but has soon rebranded himself to be known as someone who is not afraid to speak about the ills of the Nigeria society which he did so in his controversial song “This is Nigeria” a cover of America’s artist Childish Gambino song “This is America

That was the song that sparked the comparison with Fela, with the song, threatened to be banned by Nigeria Broadcasting Commission (NBC) also with Nigeria's Muslim Rights Concern (MURIC) calling for apologizes which Falz outrightly said he would never grant. Other singles talk and moral instructions dropped, they also feature verses speaking about terrorism, corruption, and incompetence by the government. Falz has shown the courage that made Fela hated by the government. Could he be his successor?



Fela lived the polygamous life and would always be seen around women who flocked around him. In 1978, Kuti married 27 more women in a single wedding ceremony although he would eventually divorce them.

He had several children so it was no surprise when a few of them decided to pick up their father’s craft, it is obvious that they have similarities to Fela maybe from obviously sharing a direct bloodline with him, but there is this expectation of always wanting more form them maybe a little bit too much.

One of those sons is Seun Kuti, looking at him the way is to speak and the nature of his songs would definitely give you that Fela incarnated vibes. He has made a solid career for himself and also takes part in his fair share of activism but it would be unjust to expect him to be a replica of his father.

Truth is most of the people claiming to be like Fela either for monetary gains or to promote their arts fall short, there have been a long list of short-lived stars over the years, only coming up to present their likeness to Fela only by their professed love for marijuana and women, with a little sample of some of his songs, his fashion style and even his dance moves.


Notable mention to Burna Boy with especially with his banger “ye” that caused a lot of hype in Nigerian music industry, with the lyrics

“But my people dem go say

I no wan kpai, I no wan die

I no wan kpeme, I wan enjoy

I wan chop life, I wan buy motor

I wan build house, I still wan turn up”


Which is a reference to Fela’s song “sorrow tears and blood” a song that defined Nigeria’s struggles at the time and maybe now as well?

To be the next Fela is just seeming impossible, the criteria are just too much to curtail in this present day set up, he was far ahead of his time, “a wild one” as so many regarded him as one who could not be boxed.

Moreover trying to be like Fela seems to sabotage everything because Fela would always strive to be his own self and would never sacrifice his originality for anything. That is why this obsession of trying to replicate or find an heir to his throne should be abandoned and we should focus on finding new unique characters.



Popnable /Popnable Media