Music Is the Weapon | Chicago Reader

Music Is the Weapon

53 minutes 1982

Alex Gibney's documentary Finding Fela! (2014) provides an excellent introduction to the life, music, and politics of Nigerian musical legend Fela Kuti, but this 1982 French film is a more immediate and arresting experience. Directors Jean-Jacques Flori and St├ęphane Tchalgadjieff begin with Kuti's visit to Los Angeles in the late 1960s, when he was radicalized by the American Black Power movement, and follow him back to his native Lagos, where he founded his own commune and political party and was endlessly persecuted by the Nigerian authorities. "I will be president of this country," promises the singer, not long after his home was torn apart in a December 1981 siege. He never made good on that pledge, but the musical sequences reaffirm how much power he wielded from the stage, his infectious Afro-pop bringing an eloquent message of human dignity and potential.

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