The play depicts the psychological inquest into the minds of few of Fela’s band boys and backup singers that were able to escape from Kalakuta Republic on the day it was invaded in the year 1977. The piece explores certain historical aspects of the then military regime and its attendant brutality. As a theatrical act, the dramatist creates characters that exist entirely on the fictional plane, albeit without an indirect reference to the Music Icon himself.
The play opens with a well-choreographed re-enactment of the events of the day before the attack on Kalakuta. As the play unfolds, some of the boys and ladies are in hiding; hungry and battered. Out of frustration, some of them begin to express their regrets for ever joining Fela’s band. The play exposes some of the remote reasons behind the invasion of Kalakuta Republic; like Fela’s critical comments and anti-Festac stance which necessitated his pre-Festac release of two songs that were extremely critical of the Nigerian Government: ‘Ojuelegba’ which was metaphoric and had a lot of imageries that the government could not really hold onto. ‘Zombie’ did the magic as it was a direct attack on the military and its command structure. The characters in the play find themselves in the dilemma of working out how to survive the present situation as well as facing a future without Fela. While some of the characters believed strongly that Fela will return and rebuild the band, others like Tony and Bosco reminisce the days of ‘Koolalobitos’ with great nostalgia and heap all the woes that have come on them and the band on Fela for allowing himself to be brain washed into the ‘Black Panther Movement’ in New York where the early embers of his confrontational lyrics was shaped by the black power freedom movement of the time. The play reveals some background information on the prevailing economic and social situation in Nigeria at the time of the events that culminated in the fall of Kalakuta Republic. However, the major achievement of the play is its exposition of some facts that have been left unexplored in most of the works about Fela. Some of these issues include; the financial hardship that he suffered for feeding too many mouths, the silent protest of some of his band boys, the spies that work for government while residing and benefiting from Fela’s Kalakuta etc.
In line with the National Theatre‘s objective of bringing back stage Art, this play Fela: Son of Kuti will be staged at the National Theatre Iganmu on the 26th 27th and a grand performance on the 28th of September 2014.
The play will be performed by Troopers Art Production, a registered member of National Association of Nigeria Theatre Arts Practitioners and also a member of Dance Guild of Nigeria. They are one of the entertainment organizations that are championing the continuity of stage performance in Nigeria Entertainment Industry .The play will be produced by Jubson E- Solution a leading Information technology firm in Nigeria whose track record of deploying financial investment solution is second to none.
Fela: Son of Kuti is written by Cornel Best Onyekaba a theatre scholar, arts teacher and journalist. He currently lectures at the theatre arts unit of the Department of creative art, University of Lagos. Mr. Onyekaba is pioneering the festivalization of theatre courses in Nigeria Universities with the Unilag-Africaribbean Festival Carnival already in its seventh year. He has been a research assistant to the Ferguson Centre of the Open University in the U.K, on Nigerian Films and the UK diaspora.
The play is directed by the creative and versatile Toyin Oshinaike, a theatre Director, a Poet and an Actor. He has over 20 years’ experience in the industry. He was recognized with an award by NANTAP for his outstanding contribution to the development of theatre in Nigeria.
The play will be choreographed by another multi-talented theatre art practioner and dancer Tobi Odunsi, who is a graduate of University of Lagos and a member of Dance Guild of Nigeria. His Performances in the theatre project contacting the world in Manchester earned him an award of recognition in UK. Tobi also played the major role of a fugitive in Lagbaja’s hit music video shobolation and he also appeared on the currently most expensive T.V series Tinsel.