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Fela was my most interesting client – Falana

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-Fela always has his defense planned ahead of violating laws which made it possible for him to escape. 

-Fela was also passionate about the total freedom of Nigeria and the African continent as a whole.

Popular human rights lawyer, Femi Falana (SAN), has said the late Afrobeat legend, Fela Anikulapo-Kuti, remains his most interesting client.

He disclosed that Fela got away with a lot of law breaking as he had it planned out in advance and notified him ahead to get ready to defend him in court.

Falana said this during a lecture organised as part of the activities marking this year’s Felabration festival and Fela’s posthumous 79th birthday.

He said: “I was Fela’s lawyer and I can tell you here, he’s been my most interesting client.

“Fela, for many of us, had propensity for criminality – for many people. But here was a guy, Fela, who would tell you, Femi, I wan commit this offence Ah, no nao. And he would say, ‘No, I am going to breach the new colonial law, it’s your business to defend me.”

“And as far as Fela was concerned, he would do it. And one thing I found very interesting was that he would have done his own work, all you then needed to do as a lawyer was just to look for the law to back up his own defence – a defence that you cannot challenge in any court. And that was how Fela got away with a lot of violations of the legal system.”

Falana also spoke on how Fela campaigned against the military and white colonialists through his lectures and circulating a book titled, “How Europe Underdeveloped Africa,’ among undergraduates in Nigerian universities.

READ ALSO: Lagos Govt unveils “Liberation Statue” to honour Fela

Falana said: “As an undergraduate, one of the most valuable books I ever came across was ‘How Europe Underdeveloped Africa,’ by Walter Rodney. Fela it was who circulated and publicised that book in Africa.”

“As far as Fela was concerned, that book had to be a compulsory read for every African undergraduate. You hardly would find such a book now. Fela would come to campuses with lorry load of books.”

“Fela, in two years, delivered about 60 lectures on our campuses in the 80s, just to challenge Africans to drop our colonial names; to challenge us to decolonise our minds.

“Fela fought the African soldiers. Fela knew soldiers were a danger and Fela told all of us, when soldiers invade a town, they loot, they rape, they steal and that, therefore, we have to fight the army.”


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Oladipo is a Content Supervisor at Naija News. He has a huge flair for creative writing, loves travelling and gets thrills from learning new things.