February 18th – The End of Kalakuta Republic
Today, February 18th, marks the anniversary of the date that Fela Anikulapo Kuti’s Kalakuta Republic was razed to the ground. Kalakuta Republic was the home of Fela, his family, band members, singers and numerous hangers-on. It had a free health clinic and a free recording studio and welcomed the outcasts of society with open arms.
Kalakuta was named after a prison cell, Calcutta in which Fela had done some time and was declared a republic independent of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. This no doubt didn’t sit well with the military regime in Nigeria at the time. There were also stories about young girls being lured to the republic by Fela’s band members and corrupted. When he then released the song ‘Zombie’ in which he likened all soldiers to dumb zombies, enough was enough.
On the morning of February 18th 1977, over a thousand soldiers stormed the compound and burnt it to the ground. In the process, the men were beaten up and the women assaulted . Fela’s mother was thrown out of a second floor window and was to spend the next eight weeks in a coma from which she died.
On the anniversary of the attack in 1978, Fela failed in an attempt to marry his 27 back-up singers in a mass wedding ceremony at his lawyer’s offices. He wed them in secret two days later on February 20th.
Fela penned the song Sorrow, Tears and Blood about the Kalakuta Republic attack.Share: