Fela Kuti (Hossni Boudali), leading the afrofunk band.

TAKING audiences on a colourful journey from the creation of afrobeat to the present day, Afrobeat from the Heart is being staged at Helsinki’s KokoTeatteri from 23 April-13 May. And what better person to guide a path through history than Nigerian musician, composer, politician and human rights activist Fela Kuti – the focus of this new production.

Kuti is credited with creating the afrobeat music style by combining the traditional sounds of African folk with Western pop-music. Kuti’s popularity grew in Africa and across the world via performing with his big live band and using his music to underline various political messages regarding events in his home country.

The show offers energetic afrobeats played by a live afrofunk band – a rare treat to be enjoyed in Helsinki. In addition to the top musicians on offer, the music is accompanied by an art performance created by dancers, singers and actors.

The director of the musical, Hossni Boudali, has sought to create an educational musical project, in which both the artists and the audience learn more about Africa through the life and sounds of Kuti. In doing this something new is created in the multicultural art field in Finland.

“As long as we give each other a chance, we notice that together we can create something more,” Boudali states.

Grouping together

The musical group consists of more than 60 members, who have increased their knowledge about Kuti through his music. Furthermore, their cooperation has taught them about different cultures and different ways of working, and has found both similarities and differences in the way they approach the same material.

“Our musical group is very diverse, as are the streets of Finland nowadays,” Boudali continues.

As well as telling the story of the origins of afrobeat, the production helps to get to know the history of Africa and shows the power of co-operation. The multicultural group conveys an important message of today’s Finland.

Afrobeat from the Heart
23 April-13 May
Hämeentie 3, Helsinki

“We are really looking forward to the shows this spring, in which the audience can take part in something unique,” says dancer Tiia Nohynek. “We are also ready to surprise!”

James O’Sullivan
Image: Gabriele Marotta