Tuesday, 21 July 2009


The first time I heard Fela Kuti I couldn’t believe my ears.
I felt ashamed.
Ashamed of not knowing who he was, where he came from, what he sung about. Then I started reading about him. Yes he IS the father of Afro Beat, which is essentially a fusion of jazz, funk, psychedelic rock, and traditional West African chants and rhythms. He was Nigerian, and was a multi instrumentalist, a civil rights activist, he released over 47 albums, and he supported socialism.
But aside from all that it was what he produced in me, what he made me feel, physically, my body responded to him.

I come from a dark skinned father and a light skinned mother. I was born in a country where drums, Africa and the Negro culture gave the whole country its heart beat. Without it, Uruguay doesn’t breath. My country invented Candombe, we white folks are lubolos (white people appearing as black people at Carnivals, wanting to be black, feeling themselves black). Uruguay actually has a pure African descendant population of %6.3 and coming from a small country its saying a lot, Brazil has only %6 pure black population (data from 2000) and is a much, much larger country.
I grew up in a neighborhood where we white, were the minority, I wanted to be black when I was 4 and played with my friends.
I now live in Buenos Aires, and if someone asks me what it lacks I could instantly point out 2 things, a beach on its capital city and black people.
Down here, we had racist issues, not as much as in the North Continent of our beloved America, but we did have them. Black people and Indians fighting the Libertarian and Civil wars on the front line, so they would die first than the white people. Shame on those who claimed to be “libertarian” and acted that way.

I felt ashamed, I’ve always felt a bit ashamed about my skin, my light skin, always felt anger and rage every time an injustice was thrown onto the black people, so beautiful to me, so talented, with such life in them that all their problems would go away. I’ve always been fascinated by their power to transform death into life.
Black people singing in the cotton fields.
Black people dancing to the stars in Africa.
Black people fighting apartheid with open hands and closed fists.
Black people, with such black power.

Yes, I’m going to make a racist stand here.
No, I didn't believe, in my heart, that we were equal, I’ve never had.
I had always felt black people were better, more talented. They sung better, they danced better, their skin was more beautiful, their bodies better built, they were better at sports, better in music.
Simply better. I strongly believe that one of the reasons for racism to exist is envy.

Then I heard Fela Kuti and something inside of me changed, completely, I felt no color, just beat, rhythm, sound, blood in my veins, warmth in my skin, I was alive, experiencing music completely.
I was black and white; I was in Buenos Aires and in Africa.

He brought everything together for me.
I could never talk about Fela Kuti without talking about what I felt about my skin, because it’s the largest organ of my body and he made me realize I had one.
Music has no shape, no color. Music chooses you; you never choose music, not really. Music can take you places you’ve never been to, I believe that he thought that way; he made us all into one huge African heart beat.

After all, men comes from Africa. The heart of the world is Africa.
Black Africa. Black Power.

Fela Kuti

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