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Celebrating Fela 20 years after: Memorable quotes of the maestro

  • “WE are building a monster society,” on Giwa’s death (as quoted in Daily Times of October 24, 1984).


  • “I am neither a rebel nor revolutionary. I am a person who wants to belong to my roots. My name is not controversy. I want to be original and African by changing my English surname. I am not a revolutionary, but I believe in authenticity.”


  • “Music itself belongs to the African because the language we speak and words uttered are like songs.

“I don’t think I would be at the top of African music scene today if I had been playing exactly the same thing for the past twenty years. I don’t write music to impress people, I write music strictly for my own personal enjoyment. I must play what I enjoy, and I don’t like to hear the same thing …”


  • “When I was young, I saw the way other parents behaved to their children and I would regret being born to my parents. The way my father was kicking my ass, my mother’s disciplinary actions, that was my first regret …”


  • “I was with my group travelling by road back to Nigeria (from Ghana). I had been looking at the beautiful country and thinking how beautiful Africa is. My girls were tired. Most of them slept throughout that trip. Now and then, I’d look at them sleeping. And I’d think: those girls have suffered plenty – plenty for me o. For eight years. Some for eight years. Fearless women, these my girls.”

(on his marriage to 27 wives)


  • “My main objective is to lay a claim to world recognition without gimmicks. I want to come out distinct as was Charlie Parker in Jazz and Beethoven in classical music.”


  • “My music is going to change. It will still be Fela, but people will hear dynamic sounds, you know. Like my band now, I am going to use two bass guitarists, instead of one. In the whole world, everybody uses one bass.

” … I also want to add those big conga drums that are as tall as human beings, for special effect.”

(After his release from prison in 1986).


  • “When you are trying to be good in this country they spoil you. If you dey nice, cool, they take it for stupidity. That is police, soldier and warder mentality.”




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