Nigeria welcomes Fela!, the musical

Fela!, the acclaimed music about the life of the Nigerian musician Fela Kuti, is to be performed in his home country for the first time.

Fela!, the critically acclaimed musical based on the life of the Nigerian musician Fela Kuti, is to play in his home country for the first time.

The show, which opened in New York more than two years ago, moved to Broadway in 2009, before moving to London in 2010. Nominated for an impressive 11 Tonys last year - winning those for Best Choreography, Best Costume Design of a Musical, and Best Sound Design of a Musical - it will play for six days at the Eko Hotel's New Expo Centre, in Lagos, with tickets going on sale March 15.

Kuti, who died in 1997 aged 58, became a prominent voice for the people of Nigeria during his career, although his politically charged songs made him an enemy of the government. One of his albums in particular, 1977's Zombie, proved to be so unpopular among Nigeria's army, that it prompted roughly 1,000 soldiers to attack Kalakuta Republic, the compound Kuti created in which to house his recording studio, family, and friends - resulting in the death of his mother. The studio was also burnt to the ground.

Following this incident, Fela fled to Ghana, going back to Nigeria in 1978. Given his political activism, it should come as no surprise that the outspoken singer went on to form his own political party, Movement of the People, soon after. And while his bid to become the next president of Nigeria was repeatedly blocked by the government, when his death was announced, more than one million people are believed to have attended his funeral.

Fela!'s popularity has renewed interest in his legacy outside Africa, and the show is sure to get a rapturous response when it opens in Nigeria.

Published: March 6, 2011 04:00 AM