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FELA and the Kalakuta Queens
Fela and the Kalakuta Queens chronicle Fela’s birth, rebirth, activism and his non-traditional family. Contrary to popular belief, Fela’s Queens were not prostitutes and low lives. They were dancers and members from his performances and they were more than that. They were a source of strength and inspirational support to Fela. They endured intimidation and torture from the Police and the general public.
Fela and the Kalakuta Queens is a story about the young women who left their families and friends to live with Fela and help popularize his music and negotiate power using performance. As members of his extended band and dancers, they collaborate in his revolutions, struggles, strife and his everyday life. Together they form Kalakuta Republic and declare independence from the Nigeria state. Their involvement with Fela and their young age plays a significant role in transforming his deeply political songs into a matter for the public interest. They face torture, intimidation, and series of arrests from the hands of the Police but together prove to be a coherent force against their common enemies. This and their radical fight against political injustice and social ills further prove that they are more than the low lives, prostitutes and artistic zombies the society thinks of them. Fela’s political radicalism sets off a vicious attack on Kalakuta Republic during which Fela and his women are fatally beaten, some raped and his mother thrown out of a window. To mark the anniversary of the attack and also to protect his women from the stigma placed on them by the society; Fela decides to marry twenty-seven of them in a ceremony officiated by an Ifa Priest. Fela and the Kalakuta Queens is a story that gives the women the recognition they deserve.