fela_kuti

By Pelu Awofeso

Afrobeat is considered the most popular musical genres across the African continent. Pioneer among many of afrobeat is the ubiquitous Fela Kuti. Kuti, also known as Fela Anikulapo Kuti or simply Fela, was a Nigerian multi-instrumentalist, musician, composer, human rights activist, and political maverick. Born in 1938, Fela died from complications brought on by AIDS in 1997. In this Wakaabout Series, Pelu uses the pidgin English term for “one who is always on the move”, waka about to let us know what Nigerians voted as their most popular Fela song.

Nigerians have spoken: “Water No Get Enemy”, the hit song released by Fela Kuti and the Afrika 70 band has been voted as the best of the late Afrobeat legend’s entire body of work, numbering about 70 albums in a career that spanned some 30 years.

“Water” was part of the Album “Expensive Shit”, which was released in 1975.

This result is the outcome of a poll conducted by waka-about—the art, culture and travel publication based in Lagos, southwest Nigeria—on nearly 400 respondents during Felabration, the annual weeklong series of concerts hosted in Lagos in memory of Fela Anikulapo-Kuti. Respondents were mostly male and in the 18-46 age bracket, who attended the Felabration events at The New Afrika Shrine, NECA House (Fela Debates) and Freedom Park.

According to the poll, conducted among Nigerian and expatriate fans of the late philosopher-musician, “Water” was picked by 60 respondents as their favorite Fela song of all time. “Zombie” (1977) came second with 46 votes, and 1972’s “Lady” placed third with 19 votes.

“It makes sense,” one male respondent says of his preference for the top song. “Water really doesn’t have enemies.”

“Fela preached the reality that water cuts across all boundaries,” says another respondent. “The song is deep and laden with meaning.”

Pelu Awofeso is an award-winning travel journalist and blogger. See more of his travel stories here.