America is celebrating the art, music and life of Fela Anikulapo-Kuti with the award-winning Braodway hit Fela! The world is paying homage to the Afrobeat pioneer who died in 1997; rappers are borrowing tunes from his pieces and Afrobeat bands are springing up in different corners of the world. But back here in Nigeria, the only house the man built lies in a terrible shape, with his mementoes falling apart and wasting away.
The property on Gbemisola Street, Ikeja, Lagos is where Fela lived until he was hospitalized. Year after year, pundits have advised that the Kuti kids collaborate with a tourism company and turn the house into a tourist attraction of sorts – the Fela estate can generate huge income through this, and millions of fans from around the world who adore the man, his message and his music, will only be too happy to finally take a tour of his home – especially since the Shrine where he performed, is no more.
Elvis Presley’s Graceland home is still standing decades after he passed on, same for immortalized reggae star Bob Marley. It’s amazing how their families have turned their homes into a global treasure where millions come every year to watch and marvel; pay respects or simply have fun. In fact, if you visit Elvis.com, you can take a virtual tour of Graceland, with a live webcam showing you pictures of the estate. Furthermore, the property is available for school tours, wedding ceremonies, photo sessions et cetera. Guess who runs the show? A body called Elvis Presley Enterprises Incorporated!
Michael Jackson’s Neverland ranch is already a certified destination, and a sure income puller for the singer’s estate. In Nigeria, Fela’s children are milking his name and his materials, performing his songs and even reaping the dividends of some of his royalties but they’ve left one of the most important aspects of the man’s life to rot; what a shame.