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Fela: This Bitch of a Life Paperback – May 1, 2009

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Chicago Review Press (May 1, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1556528353
  • ISBN-13: 978-1556528354
  • Product Dimensions: 8.3 x 5.2 x 0.7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #768,978 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews


“Fela was an incredible pioneer. His rhythms and influence have been absorbed into so much of the music around today, and the musical world owes him a debt of gratitude.” —Stevie Wonder

“His music was exotic, royal, powerful, and captured the spirit of Mother Africa. He was respected and loved not only for his music but for his intellect and his dedication to African traditions. Fela was one of the most courageous individuals I have ever met." —Randy Weston

“An amazing musical genius with a boisterous sense of humor, Fela was an immovable rock in his fight against corruption. Surviving several immoral military regimes, it is a miracle that he died from natural causes rather than their torture.” —Hugh Masekela

“Fela's biography is important to us all now because it sounds like he is speaking to us from the world beyond.  It goes with our aphorism which says that 'Fela Lives.' He lives in the minds and hearts of us all who knew and loved him and to whom he imparted so much knowledge and joy.  I personally look forward to reading this book once again, as it provides so much understanding into the mind of such a GREAT MAN.” —Femi Kuti

“The most charismatic musician to have emerged from Africa in the past 40 years.” —Telegraph

“Africa’s most important musical export.” —Africa Music

“[H]e has influenced music in Africa more than anyone else." —Guardian

“[T]he most influential and significant musician ever to emerge from Africa." —Time Out

About the Author

Carlos Moore is a political scientist and an ethnologist. He is an honorary research fellow at the School for Graduate Studies and Research of the University of the West Indies–Kingston and the author of Pichón: Race and Revolution in Castro's Cuba. Gilberto Gil is a composer, a bandleader, a singer, and a guitarist and has served as the Brazilian minister of culture since 2003. Margaret Busby is a writer, a critic, a broadcaster, and the editor of Daughters of Africa: An International Anthology of Words and Writing by Women of African Descent.

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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
FELA is a biography of the Nigerian musician and political activist Fela Kuti, originally published in 1982. The Cuban ethnologist Carlos Moore spent hours interviewing Fela and produced an overview of Fela's life and values that Fela authorized. Generally the biography proceeds in the first person, a sign that it was transcribed from interviews.

Moore's biography doesn't speak much of Fela's music, but rather Fela's life and times, especially his numerous run-ins with Nigeria's military regime. There is some good coverage of his formative years, namely his early studies in England, his 1960s doldrums, and his trip to the United States that changed everything.

The term "authorized biography" might lead on to expect that sordid and risque details are left out, but Fela was so sexually flamboyant that he insisted Moore cover his relationships with women in depth. The singer believed in free love and would bed any groupie who came to his compound, usually enjoying multiple women a day. A few years before, Fela had infamously married 27 female members of his entourage and he invited Moore to interview the 15 "queens" who now remained with him. While Fela's lack of restraint and misogynism are appalling, one does have to admire the tenacity of these women who stayed with their man through parental disapproval, beatings by police and soldiers and imprisonment.

The 1982 text has been left unchanged, but Moore has added a poignant epilogue that describes Fela's deterioration over the 1980s and 1990s. First, Fela became increasingly paranoid, believing that spirits were talking to him and that close friends were CIA agents out to get him.
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11 of 15 people found the following review helpful By Hrw on May 26, 2009
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This is one of the better biography's I've read about an Afrakan.This book talk's to the people who knew Fela. Who lived in the Kalakuta Republic house. I actually read this book may be twenty years ago, because of my interest in Fela and his music. My original copy got ripped off, and this is a "must have" book to try and understand this great musician and human being. Hrw
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4 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Jane Paresi on May 15, 2010
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This was a down to earth book....
I enjoyed it very much, and have been a fan of Fela's music for at least 20 years..
A good book about an outstanding Artist......behind the scenes of the problems in Nigeria and how
Fela's life and the times, influenced his music....
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