According to today’s Variety Magazine British artist, and former Turner Prize winner, Steve McQueen is to make a movie based on the life of legendary Afican musician Fela Kuti.
Fela Kuti is one of the most controversial and exciting characters ever in popular music, its amazing no one has attempted to film his story before as it is so incredible it already reads like a movie script… and one which makes the “sordid” tales of many of today’s infamous rock and hip-hop stars seem lame in comparison. Based on the biography “Fela: The Life and Times of an African Musical Icon” by Michael Veal, McQueen will be writing the screenplay, as well as directing the movie which is being produced by Focus Pictures.
Known for creating and popularising the Afrobeat sound that fused Jazz, Funk and African Highlife music, with his bands Africa 70 and Egypt 80, it alone is a movement that makes him as important to the development of black music as Miles Davis, Berry Gordy, James Brown, Bob Marley or Afrika Bambata. Kuti is also well known for his outrageous lifestyle, which saw him openly practice traditional African spiritualism, amass 27 wives and eventually contract the AIDS virus which killed him, however, its his political activism that has really cemented his status as a cultural icon. He spoke vocally against the dictatorship and human rights abuses in his home country of Nigeria, which resulted in the ruling military party raiding his home, and his mother being thrown to her death from a window – Kuti responded to this by sending the coffin containing her body to the country’s president. Eventually he took the government head on by forming his own political party, declaring his commune home a separate state from Nigeria and attempting to run for the presidency of the country, sadly he was banned from doing so by the government who refused to recognise him. A national hero, when he died in 1997, more than 4 million citizen’s descended upon Nigerian city of Lagos to mourn his passing.
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Steve McQueen is no stranger to movies, he recently turned his hand to directing with the stunning but hard hitting, political drama “Hunger” which told the story of infamous IRA hunger striker Bobby Sands. The movie was universally praised taking several awards at the BAFTAS, British Independent Film Awards, Cannes Film Festival and others across the globe.
This is already a movie with a fantastic pedigree in both subject matter and talent behind the camera. Its one that I am certainly looking forward to and I’m sure we will hear lots more about it over the months to come.