Reviews

Review: Femi Kuti: Live at the Shrine

by Winston "Stone" Ford

femi.jpgIn the late 60s, a new kind of music sprang out of the grounds of Africa. The music, called Afrobeat, was a merger of funk, jazz, and African rhythms, with politically charged lyrics. With inspiration from the Black Power movement taking place in the United States, Fela Kuti, the creator of Afrobeat used Afrobeat to counter the corruption and poverty taking place in his native Nigeria. Fela's anti-government music led to many riots and arrests during his 30 year career.

Fela Kuti died of AIDS in 1997.

His son, Femi, has taken up his father???s crusade to fight against government corruption. Femi has created the Africa Shrine in Lagos, Nigeria as a place to promote African unity and to give the youth of Africa a place to go and be inspired. Although the Shrine???s main function is as a concert hall, Femi also lives and records at the venue as well.

In 2004, a French Documentary crew went to Nigeria to film one of Femi's legendary Sunday concerts. However, Live at the Shrine is more than a concert CD. It includes an exclusive interview with Femi, as well as a taste of life in modern day Africa.

Femi's concerts are like his fathers: lavish, colorful, and over the top. The songs that Femi performs are voted on by his fans in a democratic process. But this is more than just a concert CD. Filmmaker Raphaƫl Frydman takes you beyond the concert and on to the streets of Nigeria, where pain and oppression are prevalent.

In Nigeria, Femi is a God who is worshiped on the streets. On the streets of Lagos, you see the pain of a people who have been oppressed first by colonialism and now by corrupt rulers. Femi's outspoken lyrics have resonated among a people who feel that there is no hope in their lives.

Along with Music is the Weapon, this DVD is a must own for Afrobeat enthusiasts. Live at the Shrine is one of the rare movies that looks at African culture from the eyes of the people ourselves. There is no narrator to try and interpret the culture for the viewer. Live at the Shrine documents the spirit for urban Africa and the struggle that still goes in this war torn continent.