Since the beginning of the 1990ies, Femi Kuti from Nigeria has been taking up the task of his father, Fela Kuti, to speak up against corruption, mismanagement and bad governance. In July 2005, he performed at the Roskilde Festival in Denmark where he gave this interview.
Criticism and censorship doesn’t worry Femi Kuti. “I will die for what I am doing,” he says. A couple of years ago, the outspoken and direct lyrics of his song ‘Bang Bang Bang’ caused turmoil in his home country, Nigeria. The government owned National Broadcasting Commission, NBC, banned the title track from airplay claiming that its lyrics are offensive and capable of corrupting youth innocence.
The song that got him banned from the radio in Nigeria was not ‘Stop Aids’ (in a continent with religious prohibition of condom-use) or even ‘Traitors of Africa’, an attack on corrupt Nigerian leaders. Rather it was ‘Beng Beng Beng’, which describes sexual pleasure from a woman’s viewpoint.
Commenting of the work that Freemuse does to protect the freedom of musical expression, Femi Kuti says, with a somewhat bitter tone in his voice: “When my father was beaten, nobody stood up for him…”