THE regime of General Olusegun Obasanjo (1976-1979) single-handedly ruined Fela materially. The invasion of his Kalakuta Republic, at Moshalashi, Agege Motor Road (Lagos), on February 18, 1977, transformed the respected musician from a multi-millionaire in those days (his assets would have been worth billions by now) to a legendary artist without a car and other signs of wealth.
Before the rape of his abode that fateful day by battalion of soldiers who beat, battered, and vandalised at random, Fela was living so well and enjoying the fruits of his sweat. His palatial home with a horse and monkeys in the compound was littered with different cars, jeeps. Even the compound was not large enough for his vehicles. The street he lived on was filled with these automobiles – and all of them had the inscription ’70 with Fela’s picture in the “0”.
His home was so comfortable (a storey-building affair) and large. And he had more than enough money to do whatever he wanted.
But after the bombardment in 1977, everything he owned was lost. And he could barely pick up the pieces of his life, materially, after that time. He had to move from one family or rented house to another.
However, after his release from prison during the Babangida regime, he was forced to complete his Gbemisola Street, residence. The house, built like a ship, was lovely in the late 80s. But the shine went after many years. It is shabby now.
The man who had a large fleet of vehicles decided not to buy any till his death. He preferred to go about in hired cars and friends’ automobiles.
He once said he didn’t buy a car because if he wanted to, he would need to buy many at once. And he never had the resources to do so.
Though he died fighting for social justice and change, Fela Anikulapo-Kuti left this world on August 2, 1997 poor.
Many things he would have done became impossible because of the series of harassment and bad economy. The courage to take on the world and succeed financially left him after the blatant injustice of Obasanjo regime (which even refused to compensate him for the battery, rape of the legend, his employees, and the burning of Kalakuta Republic).
Fela’s only business is music. And more than a decade ago, Beko Ransome-Kuti, his younger brother took over the management of his group.