Genevieve Nnaji, Nollywood actress, has been listed among the cast for an audio adaptation of ‘FELA!’, a Broadway musical billed to premiere on the Clubhouse app this weekend.
The show, termed ‘Fela-Ten-Twenty’ will highlight the struggles of the Nigerian music star and Afrobeat pioneer, Fela Anikulapo Kuti who was an outspoken critic of Nigeria’s military regimes and was frequently arrested for his troubles.
‘Fela Ten-Twenty’ director and producer, Funa Maduka, said that this audio play interpretation is to bring Nigerian issues to the forefront, framing the #EndSARS movement in the context of the broader struggles Fela fought for while honoring the thousands who marched, and those who lost their lives at Lekki Toll Gate on Oct 20, 2020. “This production is a love letter to those fighting for a better Nigeria,” said Maduka.
While the adaptation is a nod to the original Broadway musical, ‘Ten Twenty’ represents the date of the shooting of the protesters by security forces at the Lekki toll gate in October 2020 amid the anti-police brutality movement.
Maduka added that focusing on women in this adaptation was essential. “I tripled speaking roles for women by bringing the voices of the Kalakuta Queens, women who fought and performed alongside Fela, to the forefront. Women have long been at the center of political movements, especially in Africa. To have a woman of Genevieve’s caliber play a Kalakuta Queen, only elevates this legacy of leadership, fortitude, and grace,” Maduka said.
Genevieve has been casted to play the role of one of the musician’s dancers known as the ‘Kalakuta Queens,’ in Fela Ten-Twenty.
Commenting on the development, the actress said she was honoured to be a part of the production, “The contemporary issues highlighted… are what sold me. This is an artful retelling of Fela’s story and I’m honored to be a part of it. I grew up on radio plays and the experience is nostalgic for me – the power of voice to influence minds and touch hearts is undeniable,” Nnaji said.
Genevieve spoke out during last year’s #EndSars protest against police brutality which held across many Nigerian cities, as she criticized President Muhammadu Buhari’s silence during the demonstrations. Her directorial debut “Lionheart,” was Nigeria’s first Netflix original film, and was the country’s first submission for an Academy Award.