FELA – “He Will Live Forever”
I finally got to see what so many here in America and across the globe having been raving about in recent years. I caught the FELA musical this past week here in the DMV in its opening weekend and was overjoyed the 2+ hours I sat in my seat taking in the “SHRINE”! A quick (S/O) to my peoples Jesse/Sorelle for planning and coordinating a great night of fun as your man “P” got to take in the arts and got his grown man on with wifey!
There were a few thoughts that crossed my mind way before I made it out to the show. For example; I know that we Nigerians LOVE to be the center of attention therefore; there just had to be a group of Naija people in attendance dressed up for the Red Carpet as if this were the Oscars. Second, I was wary that at some point in the musical the lead performer Sahr Ngaujah playing Fela was going to run up on stage in an adult DIAPER with a rack of female’s half-NEKKID (I would not object whatsoever…) since so many westerners continue to believe that is the way in Africa. Finally, I just believed that I would be better served to lower my expectations for a great show in order to avoid such a huge let down from all the buzz here in Washington, DC as these things at times fail to live up to the HYPE!
Who Knew? Fela made me say YEAH YEAH…
I mean from the moment we entered the theater the energy in the building was AWESOME! And that was just from the band warming up the crowd as people took their seats. For the most part, I must say that I did not see too much buffoonery out of my NAIJA people in attendance; we were well behaved and very civil. What I did see was a theater that was more than half filled with non-blacks or Africans and mostly men/women closing in on retirement. To that I ask; why is it that Africans and Blacks are only typically accepted and respected only through the arts, sports and entertainment by those that continue to oppress us? Or should my disappointment come more from the fact that the majority of Africans and the Black community routinely fail to support and celebrate the accomplishments and talents of our RACE. I mean if this were an Elvis Pressley program you know who would be packing the entire arena in their Elvis gear. Am just saying…
Anyways; picture the eclectic talents of artist like George Clinton & the “P Funk”, a lot of Bob Marley, some Rick James and the showmanship of James Brown all in one performance. What the finished product looks like is the spirited performance of one Fela, the voice of the common man and an “Omo Naija” to the maiden. The performance more than exceeded my expectations as the life story of the late great artist was portrayed with dignity and humility. But like any theatrical production some would argue that there were some inconsistencies in certain factions of the production. All in all, it did not take away from the message and theme of his life ambition.
The irony of the entire evening to me was that Fela and his “SHRINE” intentionally set out to represent and speak out against tyranny, hypocrisy in government and marginalization not only in Nigeria and Africa but worldwide. And through his music he was able to expose and educate the masses on the undercurrent issues that repeatedly plagued the poor and his beloved homeland. Sadly however; from my vantage point it did not appear to me that those same groups of people can afford the means to pay hundreds and hundreds of dollars in ticket prices to relive his universal themes and message in his music.
Truth is; it was probably no more than a mere night of amusement and entertainment to many audience members. And there lies my concern; the hardship and suffering of those who wake up everyday praying and hoping for the betterment of family and loved ones must be a shared and communal responsibility not just another activity planned for a Saturday date night.
Water No Get ENEMY…
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