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Fela Kuti’s grandson hails ‘beautiful’ project commemorating the late musician

The plaque was unveiled at Trinity Laban.

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The plaque was unveiled at the Trinity Laban Conservatoire of Music and Dance (Nikola Oksiutycz/PA)

The plaque was unveiled at the Trinity Laban Conservatoire of Music and Dance (Nikola Oksiutycz/PA)

The plaque was unveiled at the Trinity Laban Conservatoire of Music and Dance (Nikola Oksiutycz/PA)

Fela Kuti’s grandson has hailed a “beautiful” project which has commemorated the late Nigerian musician’s time studying music in London.

A black plaque commemorating the Afrobeat pioneer was unveiled at the Trinity Laban Conservatoire of Music and Dance, where he studied in the late 1950s.

The influential musician, who died in 1997, found success by blending West African sounds with jazz and funk.

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Dele Sosimi (Nikola Oksiutycz/PA)

Dele Sosimi (Nikola Oksiutycz/PA)

Dele Sosimi (Nikola Oksiutycz/PA)

His grandson Made Kuti, who returned to the college in recent years to study composition, said Fela originally told his family he was coming to the UK to study medicine but instead took up a place at Trinity Laban.

Made said that when he arrived at the college he found it “strange that there was nothing to actually commemorate his time there”.

“This feels fulfilling and I’m happy about it,” he added.

Made said his grandfather’s music “touched those beyond what even I expected before I came to London”.

The plaque was put up on Friday by the Nubian Jak Community Trust as part of a project to recognise significant black figures and their impact on Britain.

Made said it is a “beautiful initiative”.

“Black art and black culture has been influential for centuries and will continue to be and it is always nice when it is put at the forefront of appreciation in some way,” he said.

“I personally was very excited when I heard about it and I wish I was there in Trinity while it was happening so I could take it in first hand.”

Havilland Willshire, director of music at Trinity Laban, said Fela had left a “legacy” behind at the college.

The musician was somebody who “blazed a trail” and “showed (other students) that things are possible”, he added.

He said it was “humbling” to see the reactions of those who were present at the unveiling and the plaque is “incredibly special” for the college and those who knew him.

Afrobeat musician Dele Sosimi, who previously played with Fela and now lives in London, was present at the ceremony on Friday.

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(Nikola Oksiutycz/PA)

(Nikola Oksiutycz/PA)

(Nikola Oksiutycz/PA)

He said he is “proud” that the plaque has been unveiled, adding: “I just had goose-pimples, I’m still actually buzzing on his behalf.

“If only he was alive to see this.”

Fela has had “a huge impact on a lot of people”, Sosimi added.

“The most interesting part is some people are only just discovering him,” he said.

“Every year some people are listening to him and discovering him for the first time.

“I believe the impact is not just momentary, it is an impact that keeps resurging.”

Black plaques have also been put in London to recognise pianist Winifred Atwell and the businessmen Len Dyke, Dudley Dryden and Tony Wade, who created beauty and hair products aimed at black women.

PA


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