Afrobeat is one of the most popular musical genres coming out of Africa today. From its birth in the mid-20th century to its fusion with hip-hop and the devastating effects it has on unrequited love, afrobeat could be considered to be one of Africa’s greatest gifts.
This article will explore how afrobeat came to be so popular, what makes it so special, and how it has helped spread love among culture. By learning about afrobeat, you might just find yourself uninterested in unrequiting love for a while.
Afrobeat is a musical genre originating in the early 1960s in Ghana, West Africa. The genre’s creators are grouped into two camps. One camp was loyal to the Ibo people of Ghana, while the other was loyal to their Kpa people home region. Thus, both groups were called Ibo and Kpa.
The term “Ibo” did not refer to any specific ethnic group; rather, it referred to the people of Igboland after they were dislodged from Igboland by Tijani warriors migrating from Nigeria. However, the term “Ibo” began to be used for all members of this group after Igboland government changed its name from British colony to independent nation in 1957.
The second group was called the Kpa people. The Kpa people’s home region was at Kehrere in Ghana. However, most of the Kpa had migrated to present-day Burkina Faso, Chad, Ivory Coast, Ghana, Guinea, Mali, Niger and Togo. Thus they were seen by other Africans as migrants or expatriates because of their lack of cultural ties to Igboland.
Afrobeat is a mixture of various musical styles that emerged in West Africa during the 1950s and 60s. One popular music genre that evolved from the passionless love relationship between Tijani warriors and their women was called Mursi music. Mursi music is special because it employs the use of stringed instruments to express heartbreak.
Most of the songs played were about romantic relationship that did not work out. However, one group, led by Egyptian-born Ghanaian singer Ahmed Bukhatir, had a different approach to music. They used strings to create sorrowful love songs about unrequited love instead of using the sound of strings to express heartbreak and pain resulting from failed romance. With this development, afrobeat was born.
Afrobeat is still widely popular and has various artists and performers all around Africa and in America and Europe too. One artist of Afrobeat is Fela Kuti.
Fela was born Olufela Olusegun Oludotun Ransome-Kuti on October 15, 1938, in Abeokuta, Nigeria into an upper-middle-class family. His mother taught political science at the University of Ibadan (a large city in southwestern Nigeria) and was also politically active.
His father, Dr. Olusegun Adekunle Ransome-Kuti, was an educator and a pioneer of modern education in Nigeria; he established the first primary school for girls in Nigeria (still existing today). Fela’s father’s writings on education and social issues were published as a book, titled “Fighting against the Stream”.
Fela was sent to London in 1961 to study medicine. However, he refused to study and instead began his Ghanaian music career as a session musician with various bands until he found his own band, Koola Lobitos.
He disbanded this band in 1965, many months after the assassination of Malcolm X. He then formed another band called “Afrika 70” to express his political views against racism. He became known for condemning the Nigerian government through his musical lyrics, which sometimes got him arrested by authorities who cited him for sedition or treason.