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Fela Kuti


Fela Kuti performs circa 1980.
David Corio/Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images
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Nigerian bandleader Fela Kuti was so committed to his political beliefs that he created his own republic and declared its independence from the state. An advocate of Black Power, Kuti called his style of music Afrobeat. Rejecting his "slave" middle name, Ransome, he renamed himself Fela Anikulapo Kuti, with his middle name translating as "he who carries death in his pouch." After releasing his 1977 album 'Zombie,' which called out the thuggish Nigerian military, the bandleader's commune, the Kalakuta Republic, was attacked by a thousand soldiers. Kuti's complex was burned, the leader and his colleagues were beaten, and Fela's mother was thrown from a window, sustaining fatal injuries. The singer's response was to deliver her casket to the general's barracks in Lagos. One of his subsequent albums was called Coffin for Head of State.


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