His controversy with Chris Ajilo: Day Fela got me kidnapped!


Fela Anikulapo-Kuti and Chris Ajilo

By Ifemesia Iferenta

Now the two chief combatants trading lethal southpaws are sadly gone – with Pa Chris Ajilo kicking the bucket only a few days back! What a rum and grisly life!

I was a slap-happy, spry-eyed very furious 30 year-old Columnist for the nation’s number one people-tailored, soft-sell magazine, Prime People. At this period, Pa Chris Ajilo was already in his sixties.

The old geezer invited me to his plush office at Polygram Records where he craned his neck conspiratorially and detonated the bizarre bomb that Fela “stole Afrobeat” from him. When I exploded this ‘heresy’ – so to speak – in print, (Topnews Magazine), emblazoning the front covers, Fela was madder than a hatter and issued a benign ‘fatua’ against me.

Less than 24 hours after the ‘fatua’ came into force, Fela’s Shrine boys shined out, scouring the entertainment hubs in Ikeja (my base) until I was hijacked at Ojota Bus Stop and whisked off to Gbemisola Street where Baba 70 (Fela Anikulapo-Kuti) was waiting for me.

Ifemesia Iferenta

The place was crawling with media men and there were obstreperous exclamations of “Furious Frank, Furious Frank!!”.
The first thing Fela said, amazingly and facetiously, was: “See, Furious Frank, if you speak any English wey I no understand for here. I go conk you!” This elicited uproarious peals of laughter from the audience. i was in the dock!

Fela then made his point as the “only originator of Afrobeat” but admitted there publicly that he learnt how to play the trumpet from Chris Ajilo, which claims I made sure screeched on the headlines that same week. Fela was mollified but I wondered why I had to be kidnapped in such a bucolic and bellicose Gestapo fashion!

Hmmmm, what a rum and grisly life. The two great contenders to the Afrobeat pantheon have bowed out gallantly, leaving the pretenders to ripple on the Afrobeat boulevarde today!

-Ifemesia Iferenta is a poet, song writer, art critic, broadcaster.