Atim Oton: Fela is Back On Broadway…and it is Fabulous
I was born in Nigeria in 1969 and lived through Fela’s revolutionary years. I remember 1977 like it was yesterday. There were 3 major events that year in my life: the raid on Fela’s compound, FESTAC 77 and my father’s untimely death. Each changed the way I see the world significantly.
So coming to see FELA was like going home to Nigeria. It was a reminder of why after 35 years, Fela is still very significant and why when musician Youssou N’dour decided to run for President of Senegal – last year, I was concerned. Africa is not kind to its revolutionary musicians. We make them heros and then we attack and destroy them and their lives. Can I list another? Mama Africa singer Miriam Makeba lived in exile to speak the truth. Her passport was cancelled by the South African apathied government.
The play is back on Broadway for just 32 performances. It’s not enough time, I wish the producers and the theatre will consider extending it. I will love to be there for each 32 performances, but alas, I cannot. So take my place each night and come with your dancing shoes. The clock is ticking, and make sure you do a number 12 and 6. The rhythm will get you. Maybe, a 3 and 9, instead. (You must see the play to get these references). My Nigerian self is wishing to see it yet again. It maybe long to some but I am thankful for the 2 plus hours – it is still not enough time to tell the story of FELA, just imagine – this is only a day in his life as he recounts parts of his life story to the audience. Ase..o.