Seun Kuti, the late Afrobeat legend Fela Anikulapo Kuti’s last child, has been in the news for reportedly attacking a police officer who is now claimed to be in a coma.
The incident, which occurred on May 15, has sparked widespread indignation. The singer has also turned himself in to police after being arrested.
For a long time, Seun’s pranks and advocacy have drawn comparisons to his father, Fela.
Seun has long admired his father’s artistic and political achievements. Fela, a fiery freedom warrior and campaigner, was a government foe in his day.
Through his songs, he consistently spoke truth to power and attacked society issues like as corruption and human rights violations, among others.
Songs by the late Afrobeat father were dense with social and political implications. He was noted for being vocal against the military government’s tyranny in the late 1970s, 1980s, and 1990s, with songs like ‘Zombie’ and ‘V.I.P’ still resonating with people today.
Fela also used songs like ‘Beasts of No Nation’ to criticise world powers. The icon, who was detained 200 times for his activism, believed that it was all for the best.
In an interview with SPIN magazine in 1986, Fela stated, “I believe in higher forces.” Suffering, I believe, serves a purpose. I cannot continue to suffer in this manner for no purpose. I am not working for selfish or ulterior objectives. “I work for the betterment of my fellow man.”
Seun has followed in his father’s footsteps. He joined his father’s band when he was nine years old. In November 2020, he also led the rebirth of the Movement of the People, a political party created by his late father with the purpose of restoring power to the people.
Seun has always considered himself an activist rather than a musician. “I am first and foremost a revolutionary, then a musician…If I had to choose between the two…,” he stated in an interview.
Seun claims to be a revolutionary, but not in the way that his father was. Although similar, their approaches differ.
Seun’s focus is on external influences rather than internal forces. This approach could be linked to a shift in time, as the military era was characterised by a new political climate in which those in power subjugated those without, controlling their pattern of vocalisation and action.
He holds international corporations such as oil firms and global agencies such as the World Bank, IMF, and UN responsible.
His musical approach has not been without criticism. On numerous instances, he has been accused of not being involved in the country’s politics or of not using his power for a good purpose.
According to critics, Seun lacks the attitude and character to carry on Fela’s legacy, and his recent decision to slap a police officer does not reflect the type of act that would have landed his father in jail even during his freedom struggle.
Yes, Fela delivered verbal slaps to the government, but no physical slaps have been verified.
Seun exemplifies someone vying for limelight rather than developing a genuine people-oriented movement. His proclivity to jump on trends, whether justified or not, and inability to manage his wrath and emotions have made it difficult to discern his true intentions on subjects.
Though contentious, others saw Fela’s acts as political movements and a form of protest against the administration.
“All of Fela’s actions, smoking weed and all,…women, all of his actions were targeted at the system so rigid and so conservative that even artistry could not even breathe,” Seun said in a 2020 interview. Fela’s life was one of defiance.”
Seun may be on the right track. However, he, like his father, requires the appropriate charisma, character, and personality to be taken seriously.