performance

“Music is the Weapon” - a healing journey with Femi Kuti

Last weekend I was humbled to witness the most precious musical experience in my life.

I observed personal healing through music from a master musician.

Femi Kuti is the son of the world-famous Fela Kuti, and he was invited to Melbourne to play his father's Afrobeat tunes with the Public Opinion Afro Orchestra, of which i am a band member. In the first rehearsal he completely shocked us all by announcing that he didn't want to play Fela's tunes. They were too painful for him to revisit.

I immediately thought of the meaning of tunes in the set list. Fela had openly mocked and taunted the corrupt government of the time, who viciously retaliated, killing Fela's mother, and nearly beating Fela to death before imprisoning him. People had to run for their lives because of Fela. People were also united by his music.

I had read about this and watched documentary footage of the attack too, and yet the immediate human story of pain and suffering for the Kuti family was bought half way around the world into our rehearsal studio. I had never thought about what trauma Fela's children had to endure back then.

We all began to find a way to play the material. I for one was quite nervous and worried for what Femi was bravely facing.

The beautiful thing was that Femi pushed through his personal pain, and trusted us to support him.

The second rehearsal was a little easier and we all began to relax into things. Femi laughed and told stories, and at the concerts he completely blew us away, and openly showed us his own transformation towards healing. I was humbled to be allowed so completely into his story of transformation.

He put his own stamp on his father's tunes and took us all along for the ride. He acknowledged what we had all achieved and participated in.

On father's day yesterday I couldn't help but to reflect on how Femi had tried his best to honour his father's legacy despite his own pain.

Femi Kuti, you are an open hearted human. I thank you for showing us how to live fully.

Music is the weapon of the future
— Fela Anikulapo Kuti
Femi Kuti performs at Max Watt's in Melbourne. Picture: Natasha Blankfield -  Sydney Morning Herald

Femi Kuti performs at Max Watt's in Melbourne. Picture: Natasha Blankfield - Sydney Morning Herald

Femi Kuti performs with The Public Opinion Afro Orchestra at Max Watt's in Melbourne's CBD. Picture by: Natasha Blankfield - read more in the  Sydney Morning Herald

Femi Kuti performs with The Public Opinion Afro Orchestra at Max Watt's in Melbourne's CBD. Picture by: Natasha Blankfield - read more in the Sydney Morning Herald

Resurrection Sunday dawn service in Chubikopi, Solomon Islands

Easter 2019, Chubikopi Village, Marovo Island, Solomon Islands

Photos by Lima Tura

The Rev’d Lima Tura writes: “The resurrection of Christ being dramatized by the women! Blessed Resurrection Sunday to all! These women are from the neighbouring village where I serve in Seghe Theological Seminary. One student and I came to this place for our Easter outreach program. We arrived here since Maunday Thursday and will be leaving back to where I am on Easter Monday.. This is the Sunday dawn service Easter morning.”

Easter-Chubikopi-Solomon slands.jpg

Easter Dawn service with the women at Chubikopi Village, Marovo Island, Solomon Islands - All photos by the Rev. Lima Tura

Shaking the Foundations

Shaker dance, from a woodcut on the cover of Don E. Saliers,  Worship as Theology: Foretaste of Glory Divine  (Nashville, Tenn.: Abingdon, 1994).

Shaker dance, from a woodcut on the cover of Don E. Saliers, Worship as Theology: Foretaste of Glory Divine (Nashville, Tenn.: Abingdon, 1994).

We should praise in and with everything we enjoy. Every faculty of the body should be dedicated to his praise. Our tongues were made to bless the Lord; our voices were given to sing his praise; and the Psalmist call on everything that hath breath to praise the Lord.

—Thomas Brown, a Shaker, cited in J. G. Davies, Liturgical Dance: An Historical, Theological and Practical Handbook (London: SCM Press, 1984), p. 67.

Christians believe that God is a dynamic being; one who is on the move; one who, if the Jerusalem Bible rendering of Zephaniah 3.17 be accepted, is himself a dancer and who, according to a Jewish exposition of the Song of Songs… will lead the dance of the righteous in the age to come—one who, if we may move outside the confines of Judaism and Christianity and accept that something of God may be learned from other religions, one who like Shiva in Hinduism dances creation itself. Dancing must be regarded as an entirely proper way of responding to and acknowledging the divine presence. To refuse to dance would be to identify him with immutable stability. To dance, although not in an insipid way, can be to do homage to the one who shakes the foundations.

—Davies, Liturgical Dance, p. 133.

Below: Covers of the two books mentioned in this post…