Nseobong Okon-Ekong reports on a recent seeming insignificant event at Freedom Park which has the potential to resolve a long-standing conflict and enrich the Afrobeat environment in Nigeria
Dede and the Underground System
When word went out that Afrobeat musician and Thespian, Dede Mabiaku would perform at the Freedom Park, Lagos on the bill of its Big Band Friday, not a few saw it as a mighty step towards reconciling the musician with his estranged friends, Yeni and Femi, the children of Afrobeat god, Fela Anikulapo-Kuti who Dede openly adores.
There’s been no love lost between the erstwhile friends since Fela passed about 20 years ago. Dede has kept his distance from the Fela estate, only maintaining a cordial relationship with Seun, Fela’s youngest son. However, his recent show at Freedom Park suggests that there is an unfolding banner of peace being unveiled by an influential figure who is respected by all concerned. This towering personality is none other than Mr. Theo Lawson, Yeni’s consort who is also chairman of the annual activities of tribute in honour of Fela’s memory known as Felabration. Lawson, an architect is credited with transforming Fela’s former residence into a museum. He also converted the former colonial prison on Broad Street, Lagos to an increasingly popular hub for cultural activities now known as Freedom Park.
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