This was a very special trip for me.
Those that know me personally know that I am a BIG, HUGE, (did I say huge?) Fela fan. Visiting the New Afrika Shrine was to me, akin to visiting the center of the universe and I was not disappointed. I really have to commend Ms. Yeni Kuti and her siblings for keeping the legacy alive so many years after Abami Eda’s exit.
I was privileged to visit the Shrine twice over the last few months – during Felabration (the week-long celebration of the genius that was Fela during his birthday week in October) and shortly before the Christmas holidays. My experience of the Shrine was consistent on both occasions. To be honest, the Shrine is not for the prissy or ‘ajebotas‘. It is a very egalitarian place, open to the masses from all socioeconomic classes that share an unfailing love for Fela and all things Afrobeat. Nonetheless, if mingling with the masses is not your cup of tea, there is a VIP section upstairs from the main arena where you can sit. Although, I paid the VIP entry price (N1000; ~$4.60), I found the VIP section to be too far removed from the “action” and too insulated from the actual experience of the Shrine.
The stench of marijuana is very, very strong 🙂 and there are a lot of area-boys by the entrance of the Shrine. I would recommend that you visit the Shrine in pairs as there is safety in numbers.
If you haven’t seen the movie, Finding Fela, I enthusiastically recommend that you do. It presents an unvarnished look at Fela, warts and all and was very informative, especially for Fela-heads.
For those interested in visiting the Shrine, it is located on Adeleye Street, Ikeja, Lagos. Femi Kuti plays every Thursday and Sunday nights when he is in country and Seun Kuti plays on the last Saturday night of the month. Entry fee is N500 (regular) and N1000 (VIP). Marijuana and other stimulants are available for purchase as well as popular chops like suya, asun, chin chin, etc.