The Voice of the Kalakuta Republic


The Afrobeat star Femi Kuti, son of the great Fela Anikulapo Kuti, talks with the L.A. Weekly:

Q: What's your take on Bono and concerts like Live 8 that campaign on behalf of Africa?

A: Bono doesn't need to tell us that we are poor. We know we are poor. All these concerts come and go and nothing changes in Africa.

Q: So then what's the best way for concerned Americans to get involved with helping Africa?

A: Not to feel sorry for us but to be positive toward us. Do more business with us. Come and visit us. We, in turn, have to get stronger and not rely on leaders to do everything for us. We must take action ourselves. But Western democracies must also stop turning a blind eye to African corruption and start taking action—then we can start moving forward as a nation.

Unfortunately, the interviewer doesn't ask what sort of "action" Femi would like those Western democracies to take. (From his comments here, I'd guess he means cut off aid.) But he does elicit an interesting answer to this query:

Q: You've said in the past that you don't believe in democracy. What do you believe in?

A: I'm going to be a leader of myself. All I can do is just try to be a good human being and fight to eradicate bad vibes like jealousy and greed from my way of thinking. I want to be happy and make other people happy too.

Most of the time, anyway. In a follow-up story, the Weekly reports that during Femi's show at the House of Blues last Friday, "a less-than-perceptive crowd cheered wildly when Femi took a mid-set break to address the plague of corruption among African leadership. 'Our leaders take the people's money and come spend it in places like Los Angeles,' he said, surprised when his words were greeted with hoots of joy from the crowd."

"You're not listening," a frustrated Femi scolded.