Nigeria: When President Obama Stepped Into Anikulapo Kuti's Shoes
August 23, 2014
By Bayo Daramola Seventeen swift years have gone since August 2, 1997 when Fela Kuti, a bold and courageous musical prophet, departed this earth. In this tribute, BAYO DARAMOLA reports on the high esteem accorded to Fela’s memory in the USA, a land of true freedom, egalitarianism and brotherhood. No less a personality than the American President portrayed Anikulapo on stage. Fela’s saga is an unfinished matter. When he died, he started living again through his immortal artistic legacy combined with his immaculate record of selfless fight for human dignity.AT the White House, it was a beautiful and amazing show on the night when the president of the world’s most powerful nation, United States of America, stepped temporarily into Anikulapo Kuti’s shoes. Apart from stunning all present with his compelling portrayal of the lead role in the multi-Tony Award winning musical, FELA! ON BROADWAY, President Barrak Obama went on to declare that, should the same show still be running by 2017, he would love to take over Fela’s role in the hit show on a continuous basis. It was another way in which the American president proved himself to be a many sided personality, being competent in them all. FELA! had entered the ninth month of its spell binding New York run and, on a cool Monday, the President and his lovely wife, Michelle, were hosting Broadway performers to an evening of show tunes intended for filming and later broadcast on PBS. Tagged officially as the White House’s In Performance concert series, the evening’s programme began ordinarily enough as Elaine Stritch, the Tony Award-winning artiste, sang the song Broadway Baby. This was after President Obama had expressed his deeply rooted belief that Broadway music is a “truly spectacular American art form,” concluding that whether they are conscious of it or not, all Americans have stuck in their head the sweet lyrics of some Broadway shows. Nonetheless, everything would change dramatically, taking a totally different turn when the President himself stepped on stage in full costume to perform the concert segments of FELA! ON BROADWAY in the role of Anikulapo Kuti. Portraying Fela Anikulapo Kuti with craft perfect confidence, artistic finesse and imaginative sure footedness, President Obama commanded astonishing attention as he shouted to the audience, “I’m gonna change Africa, I’m gonna change the world.” Then, he burst into song. Reports describe how, on that single night of stunning action, the President danced with incredible kinetic energy, kicking his legs high up in the air as he sang selections from FELA! ON BROADWAY, including Everything Scatter and Expensive Shit. However, it was with his mind-storming rendition of the highly inflammable Zombie that Obama finally brought down the house with a superb finishing. White House staff and guests alike were rudely but pleasantly shocked when the President stylishly handled an alto saxophone off its stand to blow a hard, in sinking solo on Zombie. Another U.S. commander in chief who plays the sax with deep penetration and purity of tone is former President Bill Clinton about whom it has been said that “White skin or not, Clinton is the USA’s first black president,” due to his unparalleled racial love and socio-cultural affinity with African Americans. Some Broadway producers hoped that Obama would sing the Fela classic, Coffin for Head of State but the President simply ended the night of uncommon splendor by singing the song Lover to his beautiful wife, Michelle, perhaps mirroring Fela’s Ololufemi, a Yoruba love song belonging to Fela’s Koola Lobitos years and included in the musical’s repertoire.
Nkemnji Global Tech
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