Thursday, October 8, 2015 5:16 pm
Sandra Izsadore, Fela Anikulapo Kuti’s African American girlfriend will visit Nigeria next week as part of the annual Felabration which begins on Monday 12 October 2015. She is one of the speakers expected at the Fela Debates. Topic: “Human Rights as My Property”. Others are Chidi Odinkalu, Ayo Obe and Kunle Ajibade, while it will be moderated by former Lagos State governor, Raji Fahola. The event will hold at NECA Hall, Hakeem Balogun Road, Central Business District, Alausa, Ikeja by 11 am.
As an active member of the United States Civil Rights Movement, Sandra influenced Fela’s political ideas radically when he lived with her in the early 1970s in Los Angeles. Sandra regaled Fela with tales of how she suffered racial discrimination when she was young.
Sandra, in addition, presented Fela with a copy of the autobiography of Malcolm X. In the book, This Bitch of a Life, she explained: “I talked about my ancestral background. I was trying to let him know that we too are African. We might be a watered-down version but African all the same.”
Born Sandra Smith in Los Angeles, Sandra was a young, afro-sporting dancer and Black Panther when she was introduced to Fela Ransome Kuti at a gig at LA’s Ambassador Hotel in 1969.
She was quoted in a report published on discogs.com: “Fela asked me my name and I told him,” she recounted to Carlos Moore. “Then he asked me if I had a car and I said, ‘Yes.’ He said, ‘Good.’ He just said ‘Good’… Just like that. Then, ‘You’re going with me.’It just blew my mind ‘cause I’d never had anybody be so aggressive with me. I didn’t say ‘no.’”
Izsadore, according to the report, would become Fela’s lover, friend and teacher, giving him a copy of The Autobiography of Malcolm X and opening his eyes to Black consciousness. Their relationship had its stormy side too, and it was this that inspired Fela when he sat at the piano in Sandra’s parents’ house, composed the song “My Lady’s Frustration” and invented Afrobeat.
Izsadore sang lead vocals on the Africa 70 classic “Upside Down” and is still involved in music, often working with LA’s Afrobeat.