Everybody say “yeah yeah!!!”

If you haven’t seen  Fela! the musical, that would have gone over your head. My friend Kay is a hardcore Fela fan and refused to let me be till I agreed to watch it with him. We saw the show last year when it was showing at the National Theater. I wasn’t as blown away as I thought I’d be but the show was pretty good. The production was impressive (stage, dancers, script, costumes) but the best thing about it by miles was the band. Easily the tightest band I’ve ever heard. The worst thing about the production was Fela’s (Sahr Ngaujah) accent. The second he opened his mouth I rolled my eyes in despair and braced myself for many an annoying moment. 

Every time I hear a Nigerian accent on TV, in the theater, in movies, I have to take deep breaths to calm myself down. Nigerians are like air, we are everywhere. How difficult can it be to find an authentic Nigerian accent and replicate it?!

Eastenders. There’s an elderly woman on the show who is supposedly Nigerian. For those of you who watch the show, she’s Mercy Olubunmi’s grandmother. Her accent is RIDICULOUS. I don’t know any Nigerian that sounds like her. This is the BBC in England that has access to Nigerians in their masses both within their organisation and the nation at large.

Blood and Oil. BBC again. I had to keep reminding myself that the documentary was supposedly set in Nigeria. I’d have been forgiven for assuming it was set in Botswana or some other southern African country. 

Anyway, I digress.

Watching Fela! was somewhat bittersweet for me. The man was a larger than life character and I have great respect for his revolutionary spirit and musical talent. He was intelligent, articulate and passionate about his land and people. An incredibly gifted musician, he made music that couldn’t be ignored. His lyrical prowess provided a voice for the oppressed and was a thorn in the flesh of the oppressors. His music tells interesting stories…stories that need to be heard.  Yet like many gifted artists, the weight of his issues could have sunk the Titanic. His penchant for drugs and alcohol was well known plus he was a category one ashewo and fetish to boot. Much as I admire his gifts, I would spend every second of my life on my knees in prayer if I had a child like him. Should you want to make him your inspiration, please take the good stuff and leave the vices…unless of course, the vices are the good stuff, in which case, I can’t help you. Lol.

For those of you who missed the show in London last year, it’s back this summer at the Sadlers Wells and running till the 28th of August.


Hopefully, now that the cast have been to Nigeria and back, Fela’s accent would have improved.





  1. After waiting almost a year to see the Jay-Z/ Will Smith backed show at the National Theatre after it was staged in Broadway, I felt a bit of an anti climax when I watched it. The story didnt really come together for me. The best thing was the music, but i have to admit it was a guilty pleasure.

    Fela was a good enough look a like, his acting was good, but i have to say his concubines made the show – the dancing was brilliant, the costumes were ace… but somehow i got the sense the play didn’t quite succeed in communicating he magnamity of Fela, a tall order for any one, but that might have gone over the head of anyone who knew nothing about the legend prior to watching it. But if i had to judge it, i’d give it a 4 stars as i did have a good night.

    Nigerian accents on BBC productions are rubbish, the only time it was unavoidably good was when the showed Welcome to Lagos – but as I say, unavoidably good…if i remember correctly some people were still trying on some fake yankee /british accents.


  2. Just saw Fela! at Sadlers Wells on Friday, the accent was just awful, the guy couldn’t even kiss his teeth properly! What a shame! Plus ‘Lady’ wasn’t in the line up! Disappointing!


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