Here’s Why This Statue Of Fela Is Headless

  • Yeni defends the direction of the artist.
In celebration of Afrobeat maestro, Fela Anikulakpo Kuti whose 79th posthumous birthday was on Sunday 15th October, the annual Felabration reached its climax yesterday.
The Felabration festival was
conceptualized to remember the iconic musician and political activist.
It is a weeklong series of events that includes workshops and concerts.
Twenty years after his death, Fela is
still a hero to millions for his contributions on stage and off it. As
the creator of Afrobeat, social critic, political activist and champion
of the underprivileged as well as a philosopher of his own political
ideology, Fela’s influence has continued to spread.
Every year Felabration
attracts over hundred artistes-both locally and internationally- and the
2017 edition was no different as Nigerian musicians showed up en mass
to pay homage to the legend. 
This year’s celebration was a special
edition as it marked the 20th year anniversary of Fela’s demise, and the
Lagos State government commemorated the legend by erecting ‘The Liberation’ a statue of Fela at Allen Roundabout, Ikeja, Lagos.
The effigy sees Fela standing tall
with both arms raised above his shoulders, strangely without a head. The
conspicuous absence of Fela’s head in the art work has caused some
concerned followers to raise questions – some insinuating that the absence of the head is disrespectful. 
Responding on behalf of the family, Fela’s daughter and social commentator, Yeni Kuti has justified the design of the monument, saying it was the expression of how the artist felt about the late legend.
She said: ‘Before people on
social media will start to say the Fela has no head or it has no hand
and so on, it is art and before you abuse us, let me answer quickly. It
is art. How an artist feels is how he feels because if he had put a head
and the head did not look like Fela, everybody will say the head did
not look like Fela so now you cannot abuse the head because it is not
even there.’
The visual artist who designed the effigy, Abolore
Sobayo said the work was an expression of how he feels about the late
Afrobeat legend, saying that it was designed to generate discussion
about the emancipation of the people. While justifying the fact that the
art work had no head, Sobayo said the design came out of extensive
research on what Fela represented through his music, and how to use same
to correct some of the things he complained about years ago that are
still happening.
‘For me as an artist, art transcends beyond
beauty or aesthetics. For me, art should generate discuss; art should
ask question and art should provoke our thoughts. For me, the creation
of the Liberation Statue is to represent the essence of Fela by using
his costume. For me, I believe that this should serve as a conscious to
our subconscious that twenty years after Fela’s demise, most of the
things he talked about are still happening. For me, this work should
come to us not just as a beautiful work, but it should come to us as
something that will ginger us to look at the positivity in our lives;
positivity in the values of his music; for us to start to emancipate our
people positively. Going forward, I have been able to use symbolism as a
medium to represent Fela through his costume and to represent his
Sobayo said.

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