Tuesday, February 5, 2008
Welcome to the New Africa Shrine
NEW AFRICA SHRINE GARDEN
FELA'S FIBRE IMAGE IN THE NEW AFRICA SHRINE
INSIDE THE HALL DURING REHEARSAL
FRONT VIEW OF NAS
Origin of the Shrine
In 1968, Fela Anikulapo-kuti announced the arrival of Afrobeat; within the year he was promoting his sound all over the USA on a 10-month tour where he became influenced by American jazz. When he returned to his homeland (Nigeria), he opened a nightclub: the Shrine.
Shrine was originally known as Afro spot, a nightclub that Fela rented called Kakadu. He then moved to Surulere nightclub and later on Empire hotel. Here was where he made the original shrine his place of worship and he was known as the Chief Priest of the Africa Shrine.
In 1977 soldiers burned Fela’s house and the Government seized the Africa Shrine. In fact, the whole area where he lived was seized. He now found land situated on Pepple Street in Ikeja environ of Lagos town, rented the land and built the Africa Shrine- his place of worship and a place where he performed.
Unfortunately the owners of the land didn’t share his ideals and soon moved to evict him off this land. In Fela’s lifetime the court had plagued him and at the time he died they were bent on taking back the land. Femi his first son and his family tried all they could to get them to sell the land but to no avail.
Femi now decided to leave the building since it was impossible to persuade them, carrying the “Shrine” itself and moved it to a new place, he built the NEW AFRICA SHRINE in Agidingbi – Ikeja. He built a befitting Mecca of Afrobeat in honor of a great man and here Fela is regarded as a Deity.
THE NEW AFRICA SHRINE (NAS)
The New Africa Shrine can be viewed in various perspectives i.e. concert hall by night, social drop in center in the daytime, living space, a place for political instructions, a temple. The Shrine remains a place where awareness is mixed with forgetting their daily problems and words are put into music.
The New Africa Shrine is rising up to prove that, like the Yoruba proverb: “OMO TI EKUN BA BI EKUN NI JO” meaning that the son of a tiger will always be a tiger.
When Femi Kuti is in the country he plays on Tuesdays and Thursdays (rehearsals), Fridays and Sundays (concerts) to a packed house of people. With music as his weapon of choice and Africa Shrine as a temple of protest songs, Femi continues his Fathers fight against corrupt Nigerian Government and strongly defending Pan Africanism.
On the pillars of the Shrine are portraits of Great African Leaders, Africanist, Poets and heroes of Black Power e.g. Fela Anikulapo-kuti, Nelson Mandela, Patrice Lumumba, Thomas Sankara, Kwame Nkrumah, Mathin Luther, Malcolm X, Olufunmilayo Ransom Kuti (Fela’s mother).
The Shrine has become the emblem of the city where despite the setback caused by those who reject the outspoken views against corrupt politicians. Despite the economic pressure in running such a venue, the New Africa Shrine is as well known as its predecessor Old Africa Shrine.
In the New Africa Shrine, hope is restored to the oppressed because everyone mingles, there is no show of class and Femi Kuti’s concert simmered with energy lacks nothing of his Fathers performance. Like his Father before him, Femi refers to our daily struggle and suffering of the masses under a nonchalant government of greed.
The Shrine is built for the purpose of propagating the cause of human right, justice, emancipation and for the spread of Afrobeat to the world.
The New Africa Shrine is situated on 1 Nerdc Road, Agidingbi – Ikeja. It is in the heart of the central business District and close to the Lagos State Governor’s office and Secretariat Alausa.
The Inner shrine
The shrine where Fela used to perform his rites as our ancestors required has been upgraded to suit the status of a legend. In the modern Shrine built in the premises of the New Africa Shrine, Fela is symbolized as a Deity.
The sanctum has a similar design of marble like his place of rest in Gbemisola Street. There is an aura that surrounds the place because of the sacredness and sanctity maintained in the presence of the shrine. Those who understand the on the ground spiritual game better understand it.
With the improvement of the shrine, the four elements of Earth, Water, Wind and Fire can be viewed alongside memorable pictures of Fela. At the heart of the Shrine is the fiber image of Fela starring at anyone looking right opposite him? Below the image is a spring like flow of water. Significantly noticeable above the fiber image of Fela is his major trademark tight fitting costume that he wore for his last major performance before his demise.
The spring like flow which flows continuously, was fetched from his house at Gbemisola and worshippers touch is as a form of blessing others wash their faces with it, when asked, they tell you they do it to tap from the on the ground spiritual power of Abami Eda (Chief Priest Fela Anikulapo-Kuti).
Worshippers at the Shrine regard Fela as an Icon, Model, Deity and Spiritual Head of the Afrobeat movement above all a fighter for the oppressed.
The New Africa Shrine has three main gates (Entry, exit and for Contingency). At the point of entry you will pass our Garden bar that was set up for those who prefer an outside view of the vicinity and on entry a sign welcomes you into the Shrine.
Inside we have our standard restaurant at the right, two bars, a pay-in Gallery and free/general Gallery. Seating arrangement is setup in such a manner to face the stage, which is the focus of all attention during rehearsals and concerts.
On this Stage Femi Kuti and the Positive force delivers the sermon of Afrobeat to the crowd who will be yearning to hear more and more…. .They come in regularly from different part of the world.
In a bid to clear all misconceptions about the New Africa Shrine, the Management is working with the relevant authorities for the maintenance of law and order. We have security personnel before, during and after rehearsals/concerts. They cater for parking/guarding of cars and control of traffic. Our security personnel can be seen on the cover of Femi live album CD and DVD “ Femi Kuti live at the Shrine”. The engagement of the police patrol and anti-robbery squad is to give bite and carry the authorities along.