The New York mainstream press is all over Bill T Jones’ musical “Fela!,” which recently opened in the city.  Everybidy wants the show to succeed in a downmarket. “The New York Times” has done a few pieces– a preview and a review, while “The Village Voice” published a long piece by one of its music writers, Rob Harvilla, who also wondered alout about Fela’s political legacy:

“… Finally there’s the issue of how to handle Fela himself—the man and the myth. The Queens issue [the 29 “wives” who he wed all at once and who he regularly physically abused], perhaps wisely, is mostly played for laughs in a goofy mass-wedding-photo scene, though that arrangement had, of course, far more serious and transgressive overtones. (“The nature of his relationship with the multiple wives is very complicated,” [one of the writers] says. “In many respects, he was a protector for these women.”) Other issues were too thorny to tackle. An onscreen title card notes that Fela died in 1997, but omits the cause: complications caused by AIDS, a disease he denied existed.”

Further Reading

No more caricatures

Engaging seriously with Winnie Madikizela-Mandela’s life could help us understand how South Africa got where it is and where it’s going.