Every Lagos resident familiar with Allen Avenue in Ikeja area cannot but observe the statue of legendary Afrobeat star Fela Kuti, which has now been pulled down by the state government.
While many wondered why the statue was pulled down, the Babjide Sanwo-Olu administration claimed that the roundabout where it was situated causes gridlock in the area.
The statue which was commissioned by the former state governor, Akinwunmi Ambode in 2017, made a list of the four roundabouts identified as the major cause of gridlock in the state.
According to Sanwo-Olu’s spokesperson, Gboyega Akosile, the other areas include Ikotun, Lekki-Epe expressway and Maryland.
Akosile further said the artwork will be relocated to a spot where it won’t cause traffic jam.
Meanwhile, Fela was very vocal in his criticism of the Nigerian government. With over 200 arrests, government raids became common in Kalakuta.
He founded a communal compound-cum-recording studio and rehearsal space he called the Kalakuta Republic, and a nightclub, the Shrine; in which he released songs that are still revered for as long as time permits.
In 1993, he was arrested for murder under Sani Abacha’s regime. During this time, he was plagued by a sickness he refused to treat. On the 2nd of August, 1997, Fela Anikulapo-Kuti died of AIDS.
Fela was born on October 15, 1938, and died on August 2, 1997. It is widely claimed that he may have possibly died from Kaposi’s sarcoma, which is associated with HIV/AIDS infection. However, there are no known photos of Kuti with telltale lesions.
Fela is a first cousin to the Nigerian writer and Nobel laureate Wole Soyinka, the first African to win the Nobel Prize for Literature.