Cinema
70 Years of Berliner Festspiele

Fela Anikulapo Kuti and Africa 70

Concert as part of Berliner Jazztage 1978
Colour
Philharmonie, 4.11.1978

The concert by the Afrobeat big band “Africa 70”, founded by Fela Anikulapo Kuti and Tony Allen at the Berlin Philharmonie in 1978, signified both the high point as well as the end of a band that was considered a legend in its own time for its aesthetically and politically explosive performances.

The the musician Fela Kuti who wears a yellow, patterned shirt. He looks to the right and smiles. Behind the artist, the shadowy contours of his band members can be seen.

Fela Anikulapo Kuti and Africa 70, Berliner Jazztage 1978. Film, 87'03", colour, sound. Film still

© RBB

  • 87 min

The musician and producer Quincy Joppes shows no fear of superlatives in his on stage introduction: “We present to you tonight the greatest thing ever to come out of Africa: Fela and Afrika 70 – an experience of genuine African music: you’re going to see something very original, politically, religiously and musically.”

For Fela Anikulapo Kuti, who was banned from performing in Nigeria and Ghana because of his political support for the liberation movement, his appearance at the Berliner Jazztagen was the last concert he played with the Afrobeat group he had founded together with star drummer Tony Allen. During the concert he announced that he was going to stand for election as President of Nigeria and all the proceeds from his European tour would go to fund his election campaign. This appearance is regarded as the high point of the band’s history and their best documented concert, using several camera angles, a line-up of 20 musicians and 27 dancers, whose bare skin was painted in honour of the goddess Osun. The Berlin audience sat opposite them, completely baffled and unresponsive. The following day the newspapers vied to outdo each other with negative reviews, the other concerts in Europe were cancelled, and the band’s sudden end was sealed. Ultimately Kuti’s candidature for the newly-founded Movement of the People was not even recognized for the election. He refused to give up and continued to devote himself to African issues that did not stop at national borders. Now, 24 years after his death, he is a folk hero in West Africa and here too he has also begun to be recognized as one of the leading composers of the 20th century.

Cast

Vocals, tenor saxophone, alto saxophone, keyboard Fela Anikulapo Kuti
Trumpet Tunde Williams
Trumpet Nwokoma Ikem
Bass saxophone Lekan Animashaun
Guitar Leke Benson
Bass Nweke Atifoh
Tenor guitar Oghene Kologbo
Conga Oladeinde Koffi
Conga Addo Nettey
Conga Shina Abiodun
Percussion Babajinde Olaleye
Percussion Ayoola Abayomi
Drums Tony Allen Alabi
Vocals Tejumade Anikulapo Kuti
Vocals Kewe Anikulapo Kuti
Vocals Runke Anikulapo Kuti

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