Blog January 8, 2021
Quarantunes: "Finding Fela" Documentary

What a week, huh? Let’s take some time, think about what “righteous dissent” is for and who gets to practice it, and hear some good music, shall we? Might we recommend Alex Gibney’s 2014 documentary “Finding Fela”?

Premiering at Sundance in 2014, the documentary was made while the Broadway adaptation of the Nigerian Afrobeat giant’s story was getting ready to take the stage under the title Fela!

His music is immediately inviting and intriguing, and also inseparable from his politics. Fela Kuti was born into British colonial rule in what is now Nigeria, and was alive through the country’s indepence, a civil war, corrupt governments that maintained power with rigged elections (for which, in contrast to other claims, there was plenty of proof), and terror, including soldiers raiding Kuti’s compound, burning it to the ground and throwing his elderly mother out a window. In the face of this Fela stood his ground and tried to speak for the people of Nigerian, and tried to be the forward-looking face of Africa to the rest of the world. Gibney’s film doesn't shy away from the fact that he was also a complicated, charismatic man.

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